Graduation ceremonies at Washington Township High School call for guests to dress “appropriately,” including no shorts or T-shirts. (Photo: Washington Township High School)
A high school dress code has sparked controversy this week, namely because the outfit requirements are not for students, but for parents.
At Washington Township High School in Sewell, N.J., guests at the June 23 graduation have been given strict dress code guidelines. “Guests are expected to dress appropriately,” reads a message on the school’s website. “Shirts must have collars – no T-shirts, tank tops, jeans or Bermuda shorts are permitted. Short pants are not allowed for persons over 12 years old.”
The requirements, though not new this year, have caused a firestorm in the district, with parents coming down on both sides of the debate. Some say the school has no right to impose a dress code on adults. “If I’m a supporter of my child all the years of him going to school, I should be able to come as I want,” one father told Fox29. “You should be able to wear what you want, it’s your kid,” added another woman. “You don’t [need to] satisfy the school system.”
Other parents think the guidelines are appropriate, even necessary. “I’ve had three children graduate from this school, and parents, including myself, have respected it and appreciate it,” writes Jacqueline LaCasse Southwick on the Fox29 Facebook page. “This new ‘controversy’ just shows how people’s values and respect are greatly declining and want to argue about everything!” Another user, James Cartwright, wrote. “It is needed. … Traditional dress that shows respect for the event has all but disappeared. T-shirts and sneakers and shorts to funerals, flip flops at weddings. They have taken ‘come as you are’ to a new level.”
The dress code has been in place since 1998, and the school has no plans to change it. In a statement provided to Yahoo Parenting, Washington Township High School principal Joe Bollendorf said, “Our graduation ceremony has always had a dress code that speaks to decorum and the importance of the event. We believe that the code helps to provide an appropriate atmosphere for this very special occasion. The code is casual in nature, that asks our guests to not wear shorts and that shirts have a collar. The overwhelming number of guests who arrive abide by our request. We work very hard to ensure that our guests know what is expected well in advance in an attempt to avoid issues that can arise when folks are not dressed properly when they arrive. Setting standards is an important part of what an education should provide. We are grateful to our community for their continued support of this long-standing tradition.”
Violators of the dress code will be asked to leave the event, according to Fox 29.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place outdoors. One thing all attendees can probably agree on? Hope for a relatively cool evening — otherwise that no-shorts policy might really be brutal.