By the time this issue of the Reporter Argus hits the stands, I will have returned from a wonderful visit with our youngest child, Kacie.  It's always fun to come and see Kacie, Jered and Russ...this time was even more fun as we had our three youngest grandchildren and their mother (Lexi) with us.  I didn't say it was more relaxing...just more fun!

It was hot - on the way down...and the entire time we were in Florida.  However, from what we heard, it was even more uncomfortable in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania.  How can that be?  In any case, I didn't feel so bad that I was suffering with the heat here when I learned that I would have also been suffering at home.

I missed the carnival and Old Home Week activities...I also missed the AMEIA Demonstration.  I really enjoy both events and wish I could have been there.

After reading in Martha's column about the young man, the cowboy boots and the young man not being allowed to participate in commencement exercises because of the cowboy boots, I was going to put my two cents in and then decided against it.  I don't like to go against school rules, policies and the people who need to enforce them.  I don't always agree with the decisions made, but I am not someone who thinks that teachers, coaches and administrators sit at the school wondering how they can make the lives of their students (and their families) miserable.

On more than one occasion, I thought Port Allegany graduation clothing requirements were a bit much and certainly subjective.  On the other hand, I've been to other graduation ceremonies around the area and have seen blue jeans, sneakers, flip flops, shorts on boys with bare legs and sneakers sticking out from under the gown, and even bare feet come across the stage as a student received his or her diploma.   At those times, I thought it was good that Port High had a dress code...and I still think a dress code for graduation is important.

To be honest, when I first heard that the graduate-to-be was not going to "walk" because he wasn't permitted to wear cowboy boots, I thought "oh, come on - get some shoes....what's the big deal?"   At almost the same moment, I thought, "seriously, a senior will not be allowed to cross the stage because of what he has chosen to wear on his feet?"  I could see both sides because if it is no big deal for him to wear a pair of shoes, it's also no big deal for him to wear his cowboy boots.

Later, I got thinking about "cowboy boots".  I'm not sure people even know what dress cowboy boots look like.  I went back to the homecoming pictures I had taken...the young man in question was on the homecoming court and I got a couple of nice pictures of him as he and the girl he was escorting came across the floor.  He had on the "cowboy" boots he wanted to wear during the graduation ceremony.  Had I not know that he had his boots on that night I would not be able to tell the difference between those boots and other dress shoes.

Later on, I talked to the graduate's mother.  She told me he had the paperwork from the school come home stating that cowboy boots were not allowed, she would have planned accordingly.  Her son did come home and say that the students were told during a senior meeting that no cowboy boots would be allowed, but she told him  to take the boots in on clothing inspection day and that she was sure that those in charge would see that the boots are dressy, black and would be considered "appropriate" for the occasion.  Yet, this young man was told if he wore those boots, he would not be allowed to walk across the stage.

The parents decided to allow their son to make his own decision.  He decided to sit with his parents in the audience during graduation and joined his friends for pictures out in the yard following.  Pictures were taken.  The young man had on his cowboy boots...others had dress shoes on...everyone of the boys looked great. The boots did not detract or take away from the photos or the moment.

I give the young man credit.  He could have very easily made a scene, tried to make a point by swaying others, or any number of things, but instead, he stood his ground and did so respectfully.  I am proud of him.  I'm also sad that he missed out on receiving his diploma with the rest of his class.

Why am I talking about this now?  Martha had reported that most of the people who spoke to her on the subject thought that the kid should have just put on a pair of shoes and been done with it. That has not been my experience.  Most of the people who shared an opinion with me thought that the school should not be able to tell the students what to wear on their feet or under their gowns.  The gowns are the "uniform" of the day and if specific shoes need to be worn that they, too, should be ordered with the caps and gowns so there is no question as to what is appropriate.  The other comment was that the girls were sporting all kinds of toes, black, white, various colors...even peach.  Girls were permitted to wear their own style of footwear...boys were not.


So, where do you draw the line?  There's got to be a place.  I'd hate to see the PAHS ceremony go the way of others I've attended.  I also hate to see things like this happen.  I'm not sure what the solution is - but it's worth discussing further.