Graduation stoles leave some feeling left out

Lily Tran, Feature Editor

The final hurrah of high school is graduation — students don their best attire and show off their accomplishments in front of all their peers and the school. Often, these accomplishments are touted in the form of cords and stoles that are worn over graduates’ robes. This year, the graduation committee gave clubs the opportunity to apply for their organization to receive a stole to wear at graduation.

A total of 12 clubs applied: four were approved and eight, the majority of which were cultural clubs, were denied. The volunteer-based Key Club was among the eight denied groups. Key Club and BSU petitioned their rejection, but were denied again. Jazz, Science Olympiad, The Bruin Voice and Red Cross were approved.

“I want to honor our cultural clubs,” Principal Hillary Harrell said. “Multiculturalism is important.”

However, these clubs failed to meet the requirements set by Harrell and the committee which consisted of three students, one classified staff, three teachers and Harrell.

“For this new process, we established three general guidelines,” Harrell said. “The entity needs to bring a positive reputation to the school, have a strong connection to an outside entity — national, state, or community — and have a strong, very articulated contribution that the group makes to the campus.”

Most rejected clubs were unsuccessful at being affiliated with an outside organization and making a strong impact on campus.

“What I want to start seeing is an educational component to being part of a cultural club,” Harrell said. “What is your group doing to educate the rest of the school about your culture and the things that your culture faces in this community? What does your group do to better all of us and help make our school more culturally responsive?”

Clubs were also denied because their applications reflected little dedication and effort for members to qualify for a stole.

“[Stoles and sashes] are distinguishing honors,” Harrell said. “Some of the applications sounded like people just wanted a stole instead of deserving one. It’s not something you get for just being in a club.”

“If everyone gets a [stole] then it loses its specialness,” Fry said.

Apart from the application process at Bear Creek, one organization sparked controversy between students and the school district. Students who have enlisted in the Army were denied the opportunity to wear their army-provided stoles for graduation due to stoles not being a school-affiliated organization.

“I believe [the military] is school-affiliated,” Army-recruit and senior Gwendolyn Poole said. “I was able to enlist because of the recruiters that came on campus and other classmates were able to get information from the presentations [the recruiters] do in class.”

Poole even tried to contact the district in an attempt to petition the Army’s denial, but to no avail.

“I called the district and the first time they didn’t answer the phone,” Poole said. “The second time I was put on hold, but no one ever answered. Then my mom tried to call but nobody answered either.”

The handful of enlisted students say not being able to honor their patriotic involvement is devastating.

“[Our enlistment] has been a big part of who we are our senior year,” Poole said. “I thought I would go to college right after high school. Now I’m going into the Army first.”

Though not every organization, club, or student will be allowed to don the distinguishing badge of honor of their high school accomplishments at graduation, completing high school is the most celebratory feat of all. No stole or sash is as effective in broadcasting one’s graduation than the classic cap and gown.