Joetopia

Let SLO County grads celebrate the biggest moment of their lives

Joe Tarica.
Joe Tarica.

I’ve always loved this time of year, as school winds down and the lazy days of summer stretch ahead in all their languid glory.

The beginning of June marks the two-week-long graduation season, which, from a news perspective, might be the single most carefree and jubilant period of the year.

People wanting to read happy stories can hardly go wrong with the accomplishments of our local high school seniors, the best graduating with grade-point averages well past 4.0 and heading to top universities. Of the two high school graduations this past week, more than 90 percent of the students are bound for college.

Everyone has so much to be proud of, and we can’t help but smile at the many joyful images of grads celebrating the peak moment of their young lives.

This is as it should be, so I hope we don’t hear any accounts of local school administrators getting too uptight about the festivities.

Just this week in Clovis, a Native American student had to fight the district for the simple permission to wear an eagle’s feather on his cap.

The 3- to 4-inch feather was a gift from his father and a symbol of the son’s transition to adulthood.

But it seems such an honorable decoration violated the school’s dress code, and 18-year-old Christian Titman needed the muscle of the American Civil Liberties Union and a threat of court action to twist administrators’ arms into agreeing to his request.

They eventually did so in time for Thursday’s commencement, but the fact a petition made in April took this long to resolve borders on ridiculous.

I guess some school leaders apparently still are stuck on the idea that commencements must be reserved, uninteresting affairs and an opportunity to impose one last measure of authority over the departing class.

This kind of mentality comes up locally from time to time, and it’s almost always unwarranted.

Within obvious reason, the only dress code required for this kind of occasion should be that everyone is wearing a cap and gown — and has something on underneath.

If they want to accent the outfit with a lei, show off some funny socks or glue a bottle of glitter on their mortarboard, go for it!

As for behavior, a few hoots and hollers interrupting a speaker isn’t going to hurt anyone. This is their day. It is their time.

They have spent hundreds of days doing it your way, administrators.

The best of you recognize this and won’t be compelled to cast a cloud over a bright occasion just because a beach ball bounces across the crowd.

Let’s try to keep that in mind as we send San Luis Obispo County’s Class of 2015 on its way.

To the graduates, enjoy your moment, and be smart and safe in your celebrations. You have accomplished so much, but you have far more lying ahead. Congratulations!

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