The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Graduation stoles ‘stolen’ from seniors

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

As the long-awaited graduation ceremony approaches and equally the fourth fiscal year of high school comes to an end, MTHS seniors look back to reflect upon their challenges and achievements obtained. The garments worn at the ceremony affirms these milestones by physically representing academic achievement and memberships to school organizations. As a graduating senior, I have become concerned and aware of the lack of unison in terms of the attire.

Females wear red gowns while males wear black gowns; both wearing caps and tassels. However, I’ve noticed that a small percentage of students stand out from the crowd with the addition of another garment: ‘stoles’, interchangeably called ‘sashes.’

According to Wikipedia, an academic stole is a vestment used by various organizations to denote academic achievement and membership of a professional organization. A stole is a cloth scarf-like garment worn over the shoulders adorned with the awarding Society’s colors and/or insignia. It is commonly part of the graduation attire at many high schools, colleges, and universities.

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye
Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

“I think that the graduation sashes symbolize when students are in some position of to their class or to the school so ASB and class officers for example are recognized by wearing sashes to indicate that they had some level of service giving back to their school,” Principal Greg Schwab said.

If you’ve attended other school’s graduation ceremonies, you’d have noticed that each student wears a stole. For example, Lynnwood wears gold stoles on top of black gowns; while Shorecrest and Shorewood offers this practice with variation in their colors. For our school tradition, we’ve only given stoles to students in ASB.

“I hadn’t really thought about it until now,” Schwab said. “If it was the class decision to recognize the different groups in a way that you’re describing, by making sure that other groups besides just ASB and class officers wear sashes, that would be a decision that would be left up to the class, I don’t think it has to do with anything to do with the school policies. It’s one of those things that’s just tradition. It’s how we’ve always done it,” he added.

It seems that most students are plainly not aware about this tradition. By the time graduation comes, it is too late to recognize the fact that they wouldn’t receive the stoles.

“Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t make it right. Like any tradition, there should always be room for flexibility and change. If there’s a group that wants to do something different, then that group should come forward and oppose it,” Schwab stated, “You’d want to have a class meeting where you propose this and put it to a vote for the class. There are a lot of students who do really good things and probably not all of them get the recognition that they deserve, so if there is a way to recognize more students and make sure that more students get acknowledged, then there isn’t anything wrong with that.”

“My view on it is that it’s your graduation ceremony. As the graduating seniors, it’s your ceremony, so it ought to be how you want it to be because you only get to do it one time. So you should make sure that as a class that you’re doing what you want to do and that you’re recognizing students the way you want them to be recognized. You’re recognizing members of your class the way you want them to be recognized. So if there is a desire to recognize more students with more sashes, that should be something that should be proposed. The class should have a voice and a say in it,” Schwab added.

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Also, adding a stole to the graduation attire requires additional costs. A representative from National Achiever, the organization that handles MTHS graduation attires, said that a package containing a cap, gown, tassel, and a stole would cost $45.95. However, based on the order form that each senior received, a package which contains a cap, gown, tassel and a stole would cost $39.95. It is unclear whether the advertised package actually includes a stole. Since seniors could borrow caps and gowns from former graduates, if the practice of including a stole in the attire has been the tradition, then former students could also loan their stoles to current seniors. What happened to the price increase for yearbooks and ASB cards? If the price change did not occur, the stoles might have been more affordable.

Relating to school rules and restriction, Activities Director Kim Stewart said, “We don’t have any guidelines except for them being in participation of an ASB sponsored group. It does not have to be, but those are the only people that have talked about doing it. Nobody else has come and asked us to do it. I don’t think that there’s any restriction but I would want it to be ok to their advisor, would be the only restriction I would have. I would want it as far as the advisors sitting down with the people in their organization and making sure they have validity for doing it and that it was something that meant something not only to the kids but to the advisor too. That they would sit there and locate, ‘those are my kids.’”

“I think they should be given to everybody who deserves them not just certain clubs or activities, but to everybody who actually earn the sashes. I joined a lot of clubs, so it’s kind of a little bit unfair not just to me but a lot of deserving people,” senior Berta Manevich said.

To reiterate, the stoles or sashes are given to students to publicly recognize and acknowledge them for their services to the school. What about the students involved in a myriad of other extra-curricular activities that provide service not only to our school, but also the community? Some of these are: FCCLA, Key club, MixitUp; and organizations that represent the school in regional, state, and national competitions, such as: The Hawkeye, Robotics, DECA, HBN, Yearbook, sports teams, and the Art and Music departments which includes theatre, art club, drum line, band, choir, and orchestra. By recognizing student participation and achievement in these fields throughout high school, we can infer that the majority, if not all, of the graduating students would get recognized. So why not offer it to everyone? Perhaps those not included in a specific club, but who goes out of their way to make another student’s day better every day? Isn’t that an untold service to your fellow students.

“I think that everybody should have a sash and not just ASB. I know that some [clubs] have chords, but they don’t have sashes. Some clubs don’t get recognized and they probably should during graduation,” senior Alea Nelson said.

It seems as if joining ASB is the only relevant thing and that other clubs and activities are just ordinary that they’re not recognized. It is also unclear whether a student will get a stole from being involved with ASB for just senior year or the previous year. But it is not just about the recognition, but the sense of unison in being one with the class. Wearing a similar stole as the student next to you makes you feel included, as if you are part of the class and that you have all achieved graduating together.

“I think it’s a cool representation of people who have made an effort to make the school a better place and I know that specifically ASB gets them. I think it’s cool for parents to see their kids have accomplishments, like wearing the accomplishments. The senior class ASB last year had a meeting and we discussed whether or not we wanted to get sashes, so we actually voted on it. I don’t know if other clubs could do that, but that’s what we did,” former MTHS graduate Jessica Jamtaas said.

To recap these points, isn’t the job of ASB to bring up student awareness of school unity? By being the only ones wearing stoles, they only stand out from the student body and bring recognition unto themselves. I’m suggesting an alternate solution. We can change the tradition, because as is the case in The Lottery, not all traditions are justifiable. Let’s try to enforce the idea of offering stoles to anyone to symbolize each student’s achievements by placing an insignia of a music symbol for those who excel in music, a Japanese character for those part of anime club, etc. This idea from a professor of mine just makes sense. Let us be a community of students that are united!


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