What is, or should be, the primary purpose of high school? Shouldn’t it be to prepare our teens for the future whether it be attending college or entering a profession? Then shouldn’t the success of that educational success be something to be proud of and honor?
Not according to Greenville School District Superintendent Linda VanHouten. Greenville, Michigan is a small farming community of about 8,500 people approximately 20 miles northeast of Grand Rapids.
In a small community, personal accomplishments are something that not only a student can take pride in, but so do many others that know them. About a week before graduation, the school district allowed Blue Star Mothers to come and present red cords to graduates who had donated 6 pints or more of blood and red, white and blue cords to graduates who had made comments to enter the US military upon graduation.
According to their website:
“The Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-political, non-sectarian organization. We do not support any political candidate nor do we endorse any religious organization. The military represents all aspects of America as does our organization…”
“We are mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans. We support each other and our children while promoting patriotism. Our organization focuses on our mission every single day and will never, ever, forsake our troops, our veterans or the families of our Fallen Heroes.”
By allowing Blue Star Mothers to come to the school and present the graduates with the graduation cords, one would think the graduating seniors would be allowed to wear the cords at the graduation ceremony, but then you would be wrong.
VanHouten decided she would ban the graduates from wearing their military cords with their gowns at their graduation ceremony. According to the local media, the superintendent said that she had to draw the line somewhere and that any cords allowed had to be those representing accomplishments at school and nothing else. Her decision has not set well with many parents and members of the community.
Christine Lincoln, whose daughter received a red cord for donating blood, launched a Change.org page in hopes of gathering enough signatures and support to cause VanHouten to change her ruling. At the time of this writing, 372 people have signed the petition. Lincoln commented:
“I think everyone should be able to be excited, happy, and acknowledge their achievements.”
Jessica Johnson, a Greenville resident who signed the petition commented on it saying:
“They’re making one of the most selfless decisions of their life and their families should be able to watch them display this by wearing the cords they were given just like the students wearing them for academics! As an Army Veteran wife I’m completely disgusted that Greenville Public Schools let the Blue Star Mothers come present these cords but yet they’re not going to let them wear them proudly!”
“These women that support our military by doing special things every day for our men and women serving (and) just want to show people how special these young men are. I hope by reading the many comments from other Greenville residents you will see that these boys deserve to be recognized!”
Andrew Jones, another Greenville resident commented:
“I think they should be allowed. These students are willing to make the biggest sacrifice for us. If we can’t acknowledge that, we have failed.”
Dawn Snyder, another signer of the petition wrote the following comment:
“The school says that the cords are for something they earned and accomplished in high school. These kids earned those cords, for bravery and sacrificing. They accomplished learning how to be a great citizen, being selfless, and honor. GPS should be proud that these students learned and accomplished this …”
Amy Eager’s son has committed to enter the US Marine Corps upon graduation and had received a red, white and blue cord. She commented on VanHouten’s decision, saying:
“These children are signing their life away for the next four, five, some of them 20 years, so everyone can sleep peaceful in their beds.”
No one seems to know the real reason behind VanHouten’s decision to ban the honor cords for upcoming military service that would not be possible without the high school education or for donating blood which helps saves the lives of countless others. When the local media checked with other school districts they found that students were allowed to wear whatever honor cords they wanted. Only Greenville banned the cords handed out by Blue Star Mothers. Besides, if she wasn’t going to allow the students to wear these honor cords at their graduation then why did she even allow the organization to come to the school and hand them out in the first place?
VanHouten is not the only school administrator to ban connections with the military. In September 2014, Lt. Col. Sherwood Baker was banned from his daughter’s high school because of his uniform. Baker had an appointment with the counselor at Rochester Adams High School to discuss his daughter’s schedule. This was a new high school for her and Baker just wanted to make sure she had the right classes. He arrived at the high school in his uniform having come straight from an appointment. When he approached the door, the security guard would not allow him to enter. Baker was told that his uniform might offend people and that he had to remove his uniform in order to enter the campus.
Naturally Baker was offended by the security guard’s actions and statement that a military uniform might offend others. Rachel Ferhadson, Baker’s wife explained what happened:
“Before he was allowed in, the security guard stopped him and said, ‘Sorry, you’re not allowed in the school.’ Security told him men and women in uniform weren’t allowed because it may offend another student.”
I know when I went to school, most schools honored our military and those who served and planned to serve. It’s a sad commentary on America’s deterioration when our military is not honored and found to be offensive to some. America once was ruled by the majority of the people who were mostly Christian and patriotic. Today, America is ruled by a whining minority who are anti-Christian and not patriotic. In a country corrupted by liberals, the complaints of the few supersede the rights of the many.
Linda VanHouten was wrong and for reasons unknown, prevented proud patriotic students from being able to exhibit that patriotism at their graduation. She needs to be reprimanded and possibly fired for forcing her personal views on the young graduates.