Senior ousted from graduation ceremony

KANSAS — Completing course work may not be enough to attend graduationceremonies at Schlagle High School in Kansas City.

Mary Colston was ejected from her graduation ceremony in May after adispute with administrators over an honor cord she was wearing that signifiedher membership in Quill and Scroll, the national honor society for studentjournalists.

Colston said school officials told her she could not wear the cord becauseonly students who were members of the National Honor Society are allowedto wear their cords. Colston said Schlagle principal Doug Bolden told herit was tradition. Colston said she does not believe him.

“I got letters sent to me from parents of previous graduates that said,’Hey, I have a picture of my son or daughter wearing that award at graduationshaking [Bolden’s] hand,'” Colston said. “So you know that’s not true.”

Bolden did not return calls made to his office by the Report.

Colston said she was told by an assistant principal, before graduation,that she could not wear the honor cord. She said she took her grandfather’sadvice and wore it under her gown. That way, “I would know it was there”and “I wouldn’t be breaking any rules,” she said.

Even though the cord was not visible, Bolden made her take it off andgive it to her mother after he learned she was wearing it under her gown.Colston said when she got back to her seat-approximately 10 minutes beforethe ceremony began-security guards escorted her out of the building.

“I worked really hard throughout high school for that,” Colston said.”My family was just really really proud of what I had done. I worked sohard for it, and I just couldn’t believe that it had been taken away soeasily.”

School district superintendent Ray Daniels said in a statement thatthe honor cord policy will be reviewed before next year’s ceremony to makesure “all students are honored for their academic accomplishments.”

Colston, who said she wanted to be a writer since she was four yearsold, plans to attend a community college in the fall.

Colston’s membership in Quill and Scroll is based on both academic andjournalistic achievement.

Although Bolden threatened to withhold Colston’s diploma for a year,a district representative delivered it to her the following day.