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Ladue High's Obscene 'Senior List' Has Been Around at Least 10 Years

Ladue administrators say they take bullying seriously, but they cannot combat students who make bad decisions in spite of the consequences.

A vulgar and sometimes obscene "Senior List" that unkindly characterizes the body parts, sexual habits and hygiene of selected girls at caught administrators by surprise when it was passed around during the lunch period on May 11.

It was at least the 10th year that the list had been circulated by students at the high school, according to district administrators, but anti-bullying programs and other efforts had not effectively curbed the practice.

"The (Ladue High) principal also stated that in the past the list had been passed around at graduation rehearsal. Therefore, having students pass it out at lunch was entirely unexpected," wrote Ladue School Board President Jayne Langsam in a letter to a Ladue High parent.

Langsam was responding to an email from parent Ruth Ahlemeier, who had written several letters about the "Senior List" to administrators in the district after she became aware of the practice in the spring.

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The June 28 letter was part of a series of correspondence between Ahlemeier and district officials over how officials were investigating the distribution of the list and what steps would be taken to prevent it from happening in the future.

In an interview with Patch, Ahlemeier, chief executive of OEM Logistics in Olivette, said teachers and the principal at Ladue High had told her the "Senior List" had been circulated annually at the school for years — some saying as long as 20 years.

Susan Dielmann, the district's communications director, said the current principal at Ladue High remembered the practice from the 2002-03 school year, when she was an assistant principal there.

"We clearly don't support the practice," Dielmann said. "We're with the parents in the abhorrence of this practice. It's not that we don't sympathize with the girls or the parents. It's clearly wrong."

She said the district employs numerous programs designed to teach students to make good choices in their lives, both in and out of school.

"That's really what we can do, guide children to make the best choices they can," Dielmann told Patch. "Just like kids will make bad decisions such as driving drunk or using marijuana, this would be one of them. I don't mean to make light of it, but there is only so much that the school can do it children are determined to make bad decisions."

She said students have been disciplined for the practice in the past, when they can be identified. Typically, the Senior List shows up in bathrooms and on library tables, making it difficult to track down the culprits.

The letters from district officials — including Langsam, superintendent Marsha Chappelow and assistant superintendent Joan Oakley — make a number of references to past efforts to stop the "ugly tradition" and indicate that the May 11 incident wasn't the first.

"The school district was aware of the Senior List practice and had taken efforts to prevent it," Langsam wrote to Ahlemeier on June 28. "It is extremely difficult to prevent student behavior in the entirety if the students are willing to risk the consequences attendant to the behavior."

Dielmann said the district employs a number of anti-bullying programs aimed at students from as young as kindergarten to as old as senior high school. The district has 13 staff members training for a new program as well — a program settled on before the current issues over the Senior List erupted.

Patch will follow up with Pablo Flinn, director of educational services for student support and assessment at the Ladue School District, to learn more about the anti-bullying programs underway in district schools.

James Baer (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 11:14 AM
I would fully expect Ladue Horton Watkins students to have an opinion on this hot topic. Time to weigh in now!
CreveCoeurDad September 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM
This had not been a topic for discussion at the high school for months, everyone had forgotten about it - until now.
flyoverland September 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I have not seen the list. However, Betsy Bruce described it as "vile and lewd," and I trust her judgment. I saw the principal on Fox 2 last night. In my opinion, her statement that she is going to start polling students was laughable. It was PC gone wild. Who is in charge at that school? Poll the students? How about call them in and read them the riot act? How about send them home for a week? How about amend their transcripts so college admissions officers can be warned they are capable of such behavior? Ladue's board continually says they want a private school quality education (without the cost, of course). I can assure you if anyone did this at one of the private schools they would not be polling the students. No teenage girl deserves this kind of treatment.
Donna Coble September 12, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I will be pleasantly surprised if you hear from many students on this issue. I have two high school kids, one of which is at Ladue, and this was the topic of discussion at the dinner table last night. There was no big outrage or concern from either one and both thought I was making too big a deal about it. My daughter thinks it's a stupid "tradition" and feels sorry for the girls on The List; my son seems intrigued by the risk the boys take in preparing it. I think most parents are trying to instill values like empathy, compassion, fairness, honesty and integrity. And while I understand that there's only so much a school can do to combat this sort of unacceptable and hurtful behavior, it does seem that there is a culture of complacency about this at Ladue. Obviously the consequences for the list makers (if caught) doesn't stop it each year. Time to get to the root causes that allow this sort of abuse and bullying to continue. Sounds like no one is exactly sure how long this has gone on -- 10, 20 years, more? So maybe a couple of hundred women now look back on those final days of high school and feel victimized by this prank. It's time for it to stop.
Ladue Alumni September 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Ladue was a great school and a second home where I focused on cheerleading, getting into college, and making good grades. Sometimes I felt that the administration did not take bullying seriously, and had a ‘look the other way’ mentality. The girls targeted on the list should not have their high school experience hindered and NOT have to go through the trauma of this public humiliation before having reached the age of 18. Consequences need to be implemented for bullies so that students can continue to feel comfortable in their school environment. OH AND LADUE ADMINISTRATION you could possibly confiscate ALL THE LISTS you see BEING PASSED AROUND instead of watching and letting it happen like you have in the past! Disgraceful to say the least!
Florence03 September 13, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Why is the principal acting like she can't take charge of her own student body? How hard is it to take the papers immediately and shred them? She acts like she knew this was going on and made it seem like efforts had been in place to prevent it - but I don't buy it. She's a woman - she could be setting a good example about woman empowerment and making sure that men learn from an early age that they cannot treat women this way. They are not entitled to degrade women. I've read comments on other sites from high schoolers that make it seem like the women deserved it. I'm sorry, but these men must have been just as sexually active in order to have this knowledge. No one calls these boys bad names or degrades them for their sexual actions. No woman deserves this treatment just because they decided to be sexual. We demonize women too much. If the school didn't work hard enough to prevent the women's names from being exposed, then why are they not announcing which boys participated? Seems awfully perverse to protect the guilty and be complacent about the victims.
James Baer (Editor) September 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Missy Combs, Ladue High Class of 2008 was a victim of bullying her senior year. Read her story exclusively on Patch Friday.
Michael September 14, 2012 at 04:34 PM
If they are not on the list then other students do not care...... I think your children would feel differently if your daughter was prominently posted...
Michael September 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM
How about making an announcement before the list comes out? Threaten suspension or expulsion. I know that my prior High School would expel any of us very quickly....

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