An open letter to LGHS administration regarding graduation partners

by Madeline King


Dear LGHS Administration,

Earlier this month, the senior class received your email regarding updates to our traditional graduation ceremony. After reading several lines detailing this school’s dedication to inclusion, I was appalled as I read that you have decided to discontinue the practice of requesting marching partners for the graduation ceremony. 

As a long-standing graduation tradition, choosing graduation partners is something many of us have seen our older siblings and friends enjoy, and eagerly anticipated our turn to take their places. As you acknowledged in the email announcement, yes, I do feel a sense of loss knowing this practice will be terminated.

But this letter is not in opposition to the decision to discontinue this practice, nor am I writing in its defense. Frankly, individuals’ opinions on the matter aren’t really what’s important, and the administration has made it clear they will disregard them. Ultimately, my sense of loss is rooted in the disappointment of knowing that this decision did not include my voice, my potential marching partner’s voice, or the voices of the rest of my class. Regardless of my opinion, the administration chose to enact this policy without acknowledging our feelings on the subject, having any kind of open discussion, or receiving feedback or ideas from those who will be directly impacted.

Even while administrators attempted to collect student input from leadership class members, the students involved felt a decision had been made before the discussion even began, attempting to convince students of their righteousness instead of openly addressing all sides. The LGHS administration’s superficial attempts to appear open-minded while pushing an already-established agenda only perpetuates my frustration.

Additionally, if administrators have truly experienced and seen the negative impact this practice enacts, I don’t understand why these measures were not announced last June when the repercussions were most visible and relevant. Instead, the email reached seniors on Nov. 8, one of the most demanding times of year and at the height of the college application season. The timing of the message only added to students’ stress, and prevented further action since students were largely more concerned with their impending application deadlines.

For the administration to specifically emphasize a culture of inclusion and give lip service to each individual as deserving of equal dignity and respect, only to then make a crucial decision without accounting for the input of the constituents they claim to include in this culture feels hypocritical and wrong. The administrators have already faced criticism from students frustrated with our restriction from decorating our caps and, in recent years, being barred from wearing white robes. It surprises me that despite past experiences in similar situations, the administration still did not include seniors in decisions that will directly impact them. 

Frankly, I understand the reasons behind the decision. But regardless of whether staff members think this tradition “feels right” or not, the absence of students’ opinions in the discussion – and even acceptance that many will feel a sense of injustice – feels inherently wrong. Whether or not I personally agree with the resolution, I unfortunately can’t respect the utter lack of inclusion and genuine interest in student opinion involved.


An LGHS Senior

Categories: Opinion, Web Exclusive

1 reply »

  1. Maddie , Thank you for this thoughtful essay. I think this has been a short-sighted decision as graduation is such a nice time to bring people together- and especially those who have been through this journey with you. In the past, they let groups of more than two do this also.

    In our family, it holds a special places as our oldest son reconnected with a pre-school friend who he had not hung out with during his years at LGHS. They had not been friends at all during those four years, and unknown to us, the other boy had in fact been seriously ill, and luckily recovered. He reached out to my son about walking together- and they did. That day was extra special because of those two guys reconnecting after so many years. I hope this practice continues and I ask, why can this not be an option? You may choose to walk with a friend or two or by yourself? That seems fair and hopefully, would not leave people out as some will still choose to be on their own?
    Just a thought. I look at this as a way of bringing people together, and not sure why this is changed, but maybe we need to hear from others.

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