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The Brett Winterble Show

Inclusiveness & its detrimental conduct

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When is doing our absolute best to achieve success in life, work and school, all of a sudden rendered pointless? I’m not saying every single one of us hasn’t put in hard work to be where we are today, but school was and always will be a tough obstacle for a child to overcome. It’s not meant to be easy. It’s a challenge, and if everyone could excel, pass with flying colors, then it would no longer be a challenge. Now, when a small contingent of students put in even more hours to study, get good grades, engage in community service, they often receive awards for their involvement and hard work. Whether it’s a grant for financial aid to attend college, or recognition in accolades from prestigious organizations, it’s quite the accomplishment for these youngsters. 

Now, upon graduation, these students are prominently displaying their stoles around their robes/gowns when walking to their seats, followed by receiving their diploma. Is it possible that some schools, wherever they may be, prohibit the display of such insignia and honors at graduation? Certainly, it’s possible. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m sure it exists. I never knew that I would come to find a news story about a certain high school in Plano, Texas, that decided to follow its own dumb guidelines. Plano Senior High School denied one of its seniors from proudly walking across the stage with his National Honors Society awards because the school wants everyone to feel included in the graduation process and not single out anyone who didn’t achieve such success.

I don’t have kids yet, but this would frustrate me to no end. The parents of this boy are beyond miffed and it makes so much sense to want your child to be honored for all the hard in which he’s put. But, I’d like to argue in favor of the school for a moment. Let’s not kid ourselves. We don’t read every single piece of fine print whenever we sign contracts. We’re not all lawyers. Schools are no different. They have a bunch of legalese in their paperwork and their rules and their handbooks. That being said, if their rules state that no such honors and stoles are allowed to be displayed during graduation, then that’s their right to do so. However, the timing of this is really sketchy because it’s mere weeks before this child’s high school life is about to end. The school administrators choose to notify this student’s achievements will not be recognized in front of the entire graduating class. 

As this student’s mother said, “it’s kind of a national thing that’s recognized. So, I don’t know why Plano Senior High students can’t recognize the national tradition.” To her point, it’s so true, but in the school’s defense, the school is not necessarily required to abide by the NHS’s rules of displaying awards and stoles, because there simply aren’t any. There is a part of this story where a petition was started to see if that could coerce or persuade the principal to make an exception. However, I think it rings true that if this one kid is given a pass, then the rest of the students who received such accolades would need to be given preferential treatment. Does this somewhat prove the reason the school implemented in the first place to avoid such a practice? Perhaps.

I’m all for one to not single students out in a detrimental manner, but why should kids who did not make the National Honors Society, or did not receive any other sort of accolades that allow them to wear stoles or something else on their cap and gown, be appeased to be more inclusive. What this administration is engaging in is more like exclusivity than inclusiveness. By disallowing these honor students to display their achievements, you are excluding them from being appreciated for their hard work. Those students who worked hard to get the required grade-point-average in order to graduate should certainly be recognized. So, why can’t those who go above and beyond do the same? If these particular kids felt offended that someone who received awards from National Honors Society or elsewhere, what’s stopping that kid from getting a very successful job and loving their field of work over the kid who goes to a prestigious university and ends up with an extremely crappy job? Just because your graduation is supposed to be one of the crowning achievements of your young adult life doesn’t mean you have to let it ruin the next few years. It’s not your fault as a student. It’s an administration’s and school’s fault for instituting an awful rule to begin with. We can only hope most schools don’t follow in the footsteps of Plano Senior High School.

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