Truth behind the tradition

Rosellen Rodriguez, Editor in Chief

Since its founding in 1998, West Shore has been an epicenter for high-achieving students seeking a competitive environment that will prepare them for college. Despite the number of distinctions, achievements and club memberships students are likely to accumulate during six years they attend the school, the senior class is permitted to wear only one cord during the graduation ceremony. The cord must be from academic honor societies that were established in the school’s founding: National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club and world language honor societies. Graduates also are permitted to wear the medal of distinction and, if applicable, the NHS stole.

Principal Rick Fleming holds the philosophy that too many accessories during graduation distracts students and audiences from the true purpose of the ceremony.

“The minute you add an additional cord, you open up your graduation up to pins, buttons, lights, cords,” Fleming said. “I’m against people walking across the graduation stage lit up like a Christmas tree. It takes away from the reverence and dignified nature of the program.”

Former assistant principal and current Edgewood Principal Jacquline Ingratta supported Fleming’s stance during her time at West Shore. However, she has maintained the established cord policy at Edgewood to follow tradition, which allows multiple cords from nationally recognized organizations to be worn as well as NHS stoles and SGA sashes. 

“Honestly, I am a firm believer in upholding certain school traditions already established,” Ingratta said. “While Edgewood and West Shore are very similar, there are a few nuances that are different, and I do not believe one is better than the other– just different.”

Senior Gracie Moravecky will be graduating with three distinctions, but will be able to wear only one cord and the NHS stole during the ceremony, prohibiting her from what she calls a full display of her achievement.

“I feel like the cord policy is impeding on our six years of hard work and achievement, especially because West Shore is an academically high-achieving school,” Moravecky said. “This school prides itself on its students’ success, so I don’t really understand why the students shouldn’t be able to proudly display all the cords they’ve earned.”

One misconception that has been argued against the restriction is that soccer players were allowed to wear their state championship medals during the 2016 graduation. However, Fleming has debunked this rumor.

“I did happen to see a student come across the stage that must have put [the medal] on during the ceremony,” Fleming said. “Because that student was already on stage, I wasn’t going to stop the ceremony and make him take that off. In that regard, I may have held that student’s diploma or final transcript until I had an opportunity to meet with that student and their parents.”

The Class of 2020 is scheduled to graduate May 22 and, as of now, the cord policy will remain intact.

“As the this school’s principal, I have that perogative,” Fleming said. “ I am hired by the district and by the state to make those tough decisions. Others may argue with me. I appreciate the input, but when you sit in my chair, you can make that decision.”