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Expression of Heritage: A Violation of Ceremonious Rights?

Posted on Monday, 3rd June 2013 @ 09:58 PM by Text Size A | A | A

A graduation ceremony is a memorable day in any student’s life. A day of dressing up, excitement, and relishing in the feeling of no more teachers and homework, at least until college starts. High school graduations mark a special day for a student; however, if a student isn’t allowed to fully express themselves, let’s say in the form of paying tribute to their heritage, should they be penalized for it if they do?

This was the case for a 17-year-old high school graduate-to-be in Escambia Academy in Alabama when her diploma and transcripts were withheld unless she agreed to pay a staggering fine of $1000 simply because she weaved a feather into the tassel of her graduation cap. This student is a member of the Poarch Creak Band of Indians and stands by her decision to wear the feather because she said that it had significant cultural and spiritual meaning.

The principal who initiated the fine has since been released from duty at Escambia Academy, yet the student did indeed pay $1000 to receive her diploma and transcripts. This case reveals the injustice given to this particular student simply for a small gesture of praising her heritage during a ceremonious occasion. If you have dedicated your time and effort into graduating from high school, you should then be able to celebrate the moment in a grand way. Adding a symbolic feather that represents your heritage is nothing major to deal with, therefore, this student was treated as being in the wrong when really the blame should be put on the former principal for not accepting this simple form of expression of heritage.

A person’s heritage represents a part of who that person is; therefore, it is completely natural to want to praise one’s heritage during a moment of celebration, such as a high school graduation. Without this being instituted in the school system, then the rights of students and individuals everywhere are denied the opportunity of freedom of expression.

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