The Issaquah High School (IHS) graduation committee announced its proposed decision to remove class rank, honor stoles and cords for seniors graduating in 2020 and beyond last August.
At the end of May, IHS Principal Andrea McCormick sent out a message to students and families regarding the discussions and decisions around graduation honors and adornments. Graduation honors and adornments posed for removal include class rank, and the addition of honor stoles and cords for achievements related to GPA, participation in clubs and sports, and PTSA’s community service cord.
“Despite our best efforts to ensure that all students felt honored and recognized at graduation for their various achievements, we came to realize that the addition of the various cords and stoles created added feelings of pressure and stress for our students, instead of feelings of celebration and pride,” the IHS graduation committee said in an Aug. 5 email.
Since the August announcement, the IHS graduation committee began engaging in conversations with members of the school community and working to develop a plan to collect feedback from the student body about the decision.
“During our initial conversations with members of the school community it became apparent that while many families and students support our decision, there are also some valid concerns about how the removal of cords and stoles would impact students,” the IHS graduation committee said in a Nov. 27 email. “It appears most of the concerns center around two major issues: aesthetics and recognition.”
Assistant principal Erin Connolly, who also serves on the graduation committee, said the student council reached out to the graduation committee and said students had an issue with just wearing the solid purple robe.
“The students didn’t want to look like Barney,” she said.
To meet the committee’s non-negotiables, the student council proposed adding a gold stole.
After investigating the cost of adding the stole, Connolly said the gold stole met the non-negotiables and would only cost an additional $2.
The graduation committee’s next step is to address the issue of recognition. Throughout the year, IHS hosts various events and programs that recognize students’ accomplishments.
Going forward, Connolly said the graduation committee will be choosing students at random to provide feedback and to determine what factors they feel are important.
There also will be a Nest Session open to all students to provide feedback and suggestions on Feb. 11. At the session, the graduation committee will be focusing on what are the most important things that the school should formally recognize and how recognition can feel authentic.
After hosting the sessions the graduation committee will meet to discuss its next steps and will share its decisions with the students and the school community no later than early March.