Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Uniform Of The Day

Should high school graduation ceremonies always include gowns and mortarboards? Parents Jim and Kim Kiernan argue that an exception should be made when the graduating senior is a United States Marine:
It's a tradition that dates back centuries. The long robes and square hats high school and college graduates wear when they receive their diplomas became de rigeur in the 12th century, back when universities were still deeply intertwined with the church. In the last 700 years, thick wool robes have given way to lightweight polyester, but little else has changed. Every year across the country the cap and gown remain the dress of the day for millions of graduating students.

This year, however, the traditional dress of the graduate has become the center of a controversy at [California's] Petaluma High School.

Jim and Kim Kiernan decided to challenge the custom in the name of their son Steven, who just finished Marine boot camp. They'd like to see him graduate from Petaluma High School on June 11 in his military uniform.

But school principal Mike Simpson says it's against school policy. Simpson is bent on preserving what he calls a "traditional focus." Steven Kiernan can wear his military uniform, said Simpson, but along with the other 300 members of the graduating class of 2005, he must wear it under "the uniform of the day," the cap and gown.

To think the issue began with Jim Kiernan thinking it would all be "no big deal."

In Steven's junior year of high school he began talking to recruiters from the Marines and the Army Rangers, his father said. Since he took early classes that began at 7:20 a.m. ever since his freshman year, Steven was able to fulfill his graduation requirements early and aimed to head off to boot camp while most of his fellow classmates were still slogging through their final semester.
The local school board dodged the issue by declining to place it on the agenda of their May 24th meeting. As for the Marines, they say that since its not an official Corps event, then the young Marine should conform to the wishes of the school.
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