A 2018 graduate from Watertown High Schools said she was bullied in her yearbook.
Daniela Paternostro submitted pictures for a collage for the back pages of her yearbook, as hundreds of other students do, but the four pictures of her and her family were replaced with a single image. It was of Daniela at 7 years old with a broken tooth and bloody lip after an accident.
“I was really embarrassed,” Daniela Paternostro said. “I was like, ‘How did this happen? I forgot that I even put up that YouTube video when I was 7 years old.”
“It’s sad. She’s robbed of her memories and can’t get them back,” Daniela’s mother, Gina Paternostro, said.
Daniela and her mom immediately reached out to Watertown High School administrators. They were told someone impersonating Daniela’s father sent an email with the picture.
“Somebody intentionally replaced her four beautiful pictures and it was with malice and intent,” said Gina Paternostro.
Rydell Harrison, the superintendent of Watertown Public Schools, told NBC Connecticut he immediately notified police and the school launched its own investigation to try and find the person responsible.
In a statement, Harrison wrote in part, “As a school district, we do not and will not tolerate any inappropriate conduct toward any of our students. That sort of conduct has absolutely no place in a school setting.”
He went on to write, “In each situation, our goal is to provide for the wellbeing of all of our students, to educate students about appropriate and respectful behaviors, and to prevent any recurrence of inappropriate conduct.”
Daniela said the principal of the high school offered to have stickers made to replace the embarrassing image.
The superintendent also told NBC Connecticut that the district is looking into several solutions to prevent this from happening again, including having students approve their pages before the yearbook is printed.
Daniela said she is hoping this embarrassment for her will serve as an example for other students and encourage them to speak up if they are being bullied and get the support they need.
“People commit suicide over this. I just wanted to put this out there so people know it’s OK if you’re getting bullied to speak up about it,” Daniela said.
The Watertown Police are still investigating.
The Paternostros said they hope police can interview students involved in making the yearbook before they return to school or go to college.