Saturday, June 22

Teen Compromises on Laser-Filled Cat Yearbook Photo

After collecting about 7,330 petitions online — nearly 15 times as many as he’d hoped for — high school senior Draven Rodriguez has compromised with Schenectady High School. Instead of using the portrait he hoped to as his yearbook photo, which featured him and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth looking dreamily up into the distance with lasers and transparent profiles in the background, he’ll have a more conventional one, but will pose for another photo with his cat, his principal, and her Chihuahua, which will get to go into the yearbook.

“We reached a compromise that everybody’s happy about,” principal Diane Wilkinson said.

The new photo will be placed on the principal’s yearbook page, along with a message that advocates animal rescue and adoption. It will also feature the same lasers and transparent profiles, and will be taken by the same photographer. The only real difference between it and the original is that it will also feature the principal and her pet.

“It was the principal’s idea, she went to the student with it, and he loved it,” said Karen Corona, the district spokeswoman. “We wanted to make sure that Draven knows that we appreciate his creativity and energy around this, and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary with it.”

When the whole thing began, Rodriguez told the Daily Gazette that he wasn’t trying to make a statement, “other than my photo is ridiculous and this is how I am.”

“I don’t want to go in the yearbook with the generic ‘I-look-like-everyone-else’ photo,” he said. “I wanted a ‘He looks great. Only he would try that’ photo.”

He’d been planning the photo since his junior year, wanting simply to be remembered.

“Yearbook photos represent the commemoration of a specific time and place and are a reference point for people many years into the future, I think that is why they have a unique hold over the American consciousness,” says Fred Tilner, Marketing Director for 42nd Street Photo, a popular digital camera store in New York City.

Luckily for Rodriguez, he will get to be remembered as he’d like to be and his photo will get to appear, just not in the same form and place as he’d originally intended.

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