No sash for Estero HS seniors graduating with top honors
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
ESTERO, Fla. - Estero High School students graduating with top honors will not be marching with a customary sash and cord - instead getting asterisk next to their name in the program.
That has one graduating senior upset saying the sash is a symbol of her hard work. She wants to know why the school won't let her wear it and turned to Fox 4 for answers.
In 2009, the Lee County School District encouraged principals to "streamline" what could be worn during graduation. They also did away with valedictorians - instead replacing them with student elected "guest speakers."
"It makes you feel you worked that hard for nothing," said senior Caroline Knupp, who is graduating with a 4.15 GPA.
"I also have a part time job," said Knupp. "But it usually require slate nights, stay up 'till one, three in the morning doing homework."
Because of those late nights hitting the books, and taking college classes, Knupp will be graduating Summa Cum Laude among the top of her class.
But instead of a special sash to mark her achievement all she'll get is an asterisks next to her name.
"It stinks because of how hard we all have worked," she said.
"Did you feel an asterisk is enough given how hard you worked?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Some people don't pay attention to the program except for their kids' name," said Knupp. "So not really."
A few years ago the district says it encouraged principals to streamline graduation outfits. The move was partly to save money as well limit the number of adornments.
"Our goal was to ensure that the graduates had a uniform appearance in regards to their cap and gown," said Lori Brooks, the district's counseling coordinator.
Knupp says in her graduating class medical and hospitality students will get to wear a sash and cord.
"It is up to principal discretion what type of sashes or cords they allow," said Brooks. "And to which categories they pertain."
Estero High School Principal George Clover says he hadn't heard about the concern until now. He says he would concern letting students graduating Summa Cum Laude wear a sash and cord - if they pay for it.
Knupp, who was elected as one of two "guest speakers" this year, also questions why the district did away with valedictorians and salutatorians. In 2005, when the idea was being discussed, Clover told a local newspaper: "We're looking at the good of the overall class. It will really avoid possible mistakes and hurt feelings and even disappointments."
"We felt that this would take that out of the equation," said Brooks. "Have students focused on their academics and not on the position that they would end up in graduation."
The district says calculating the GPA's - with some students taking college classes - became too difficult to do before graduation. The process, Brooks said, also became too competitive.
After Knupp graduates next month, she plans to attend the University of Central Florida.
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