Courts & Crime

Miami high school loses yearbook memories to theft

Already, the yearbook staff at Miami Palmetto Senior High had snapped more than 3,000 photographs — capturing key football games, pep rallies and the Homecoming dance.

But early Friday, someone entered the second-story yearbook room through a window, stealing $18,000 in computers and accessories. Stored on those eight iMacs: all the staff's work for the 2010 yearbook.

"My heart just sank," said senior Dominic Bisceglia, the yearbook's editor-in-chief. "We had done so much work, and all of it was lost."

The Palm Echo is an institution at Palmetto Senior High. The professional-quality yearbook often wins national awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

Just this month, staff members traveled to a yearbook conference in Washington. They returned to South Florida brimming with new ideas for the 424-page book, adviser Kurt Pantonsaid.

"The kids were so motivated after the conference," he said. "They came back ready to step it up."

The teens did all of their work on the eight iMacs in the yearbook room — computers their predecessors had purchased through fundraising efforts.

Already, they had more than 100 pages of the yearbook nearly finished. But they hadn't backed up their work.

The students were confident they could recover the photographs and layouts in the event of a computer crashed.

But they never anticipated a break-in.