When Stephanie Kienzle, a North Miami Beach activist and blogger, saw the official senior class shirts that the proud grads of 2012 would be rocking around NMB High's hallowed hallways, she did a double take. Then she jumped online to kick up a shitstorm that in the past two weeks has left a rather poorly written shirt — and waves of furious teen commenters — in its angry wake.
"There was already a bad enough perception of North Miami Beach without these shirts representing our school," Kienzle says.
The shirts in question, apparently designed and approved by a group of seniors, depicted a roided-up-looking knight gripping a decapitated old man's head by the hair, along with the feisty but grammatically incorrect proclamation, "Who Gonna Stop Us."
On November 3, Kienzle wrote on her blog, votersopinion.com, that students should be angry because "now they have to wear a class T-shirt that tells the world they are nothing but a group of ghetto thugs whose only achievement is poor grammar and graphic violence."
Kienzle called out longtime principal Ray Fontana for signing off on the shirts. The next day, Miami-Dade school board member Martin Karp called Fontana and asked him to ax the shirts. Fontana agreed. (The principal didn't respond to a message requesting comment for this story.)
That wasn't the end of the school pride drama, though. Commenters began lambasting Kienzle, accusing her of exploiting the racial divide at a school that has tipped from mostly white to mostly black in the past decade.
"Seriously, Miss (I call you 'Miss' because a frigid bitch like you obviously isn't married), you speak as if you know... the students," one commenter claiming to be a junior at the school wrote. "On behalf of all students at NMB, I would like to say screw you."
Then things got really nasty. Others claimed Kienzle was bitter about how her own kids were treated at the school. When commenters started attacking her family, she pulled the posts.
In hindsight, Kienzle says she's glad she stuck her nose in the school's business, but thinks she should have been better prepared for the backlash. "The bottom line was that these shirts were an insult to North Miami Beach."