Graduation dress-code change sought

The Massena Central High School Diversity Club has approached the district’s Policy Committee with a request that all graduates wear the same color of robe, except for students who have approved Native American dress. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Massena Central School District’s Policy Committee may be making another recommendation for a change to the dress code at graduation.

Policy Committee Chairman Paul Haggett said they had been approached by students from the high school Diversity Club.

“They are interested in modifying graduation dress to include a single color graduation gown,” he said.

Male and female graduates currently wear separate colored robes.

Mr. Haggett said, if any change was made to the policy, it would impact all students except those who have approved Native American dress.

“That is an effort to make graduation more of a gender-neutral event,” he said.

The Policy Committee had tweaked the district’s dress code policy earlier this year to address concerns by a school board member about the use of stoles and cords at graduation.

The issue had been raised by board member Kevin Perretta, who suggested that the cords and stoles should be reserved for academic honors. He suggested other honors could be acknowledged at individual banquets, such as honors or sports banquets.

“To me, graduation was academic and it was starting to water down what we were recognizing there. The things I was seeing are not academic. They can’t be proven back to a GPA (grade point average),” Mr. Perretta said during a previous board of education meeting.

“I want to be very clear. I’m not even remotely attempting to take away from what the kids do. I don’t want this to be about that. It’s only about control at the ceremony. I’m not trying to minimize one program or maximize one program. I just want to see standardization. A lot of what was creeping into graduation could have been handled at the honors banquet. It was starting to float all over,” he said.

The policy changes wording for cords and stoles to “Such honors are usually academic in nature, but others may be considered in rare circumstances for distinctions held in high esteem by the school. Any new stoles or cords must be approved by the superintendent of schools upon recommendation of the building principal prior to June 1.”

A section that said all stoles or cords had to be approved by the administration building principal prior to June 1 was deleted from the proposed revision.

The policy still allows students to wear outer stoles or cords “representing honors which have been bestowed upon them and/or stoles which may represent their heritage.”

Cords or stoles that are currently being honored at graduation are grandfathered in.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

Charlie McGrath

The Diversity Club gets an F. they must be getting poor guidance. Webster: Diversity" the condition of being different". The Club wants everyone to be the same, wear the same gowns, not to be recognized as diverse individuals. Just the opposite of what they are supposed to stand for.

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