Photos provided by Seaholm seniors. Graphic by Whitney Hockman.
By Melanie Taylor
Seniors at Seaholm High School have often found themselves butting heads with the administration over a number of things ranging from the way the student section is run to their right to a senior prank come spring. Never, though, has the relationship between the senior class and Seaholm staff been strained so early in the year.
This afternoon, August 23, just less than two weeks before the start of the school year, the class of 2018 registered as seniors. For years, the senior class has established a joking theme for their student ID pictures, seeing as the students send in senior portraits for the yearbook, so their ID pictures aren’t published anywhere.
When the students got to registration, members of the Seaholm staff were passing out makeup wipes to all students with a subjectively inappropriate amount of makeup on.
“Some students weren’t let in for the student ID pictures because they had makeup on,” senior Anna Chisholm said. “But in previous years, people have been let in with makeup. It’s a senior tradition here at Seaholm.”
The class of 2018 had been in contact with each other for weeks, trying to decide on a unified theme. They had encountered trouble agreeing on a single idea, so members of the class arrived at pictures dressed in themes such as but not limited to: the elderly, the 80’s, and ‘hot messes’.
Principal Kyle Hall remarked that the administration was not anticipating such an extensive use of makeup from the grade.
“We’ve had, in the past, students do makeup on the day of pictures because they think it’s funny to dress up as something,” Hall said. “I guess we didn’t realized how significantly different people were going to look this year. Some of it was just more out of hand than we’d realized that it was going to be.”
Senior Erika MacArthur disagrees, suggesting that other grades have used makeup to make alterations to their appearances that have been just as intense as the class of 2018’s.
“The grades past have looked exactly like we have,” MacArthur said. “Other grades, like last year, have looked even more unrecognizable than we did.”
Students were initially upset because they were offered no explanation as to why there was a change in protocol from last year to this. Eventually, a few students were able to speak with assistant principals Ali Hamka and Verynda Stroughter. Stroughter declined to be quoted for the Highlander, expressing that Hall’s formal statement represented the entire administration.
“We decided that we needed to make sure that we were able to see who the student was because it’s a safety issue,” Hall said. “If somebody says someone is missing, and I go to the picture to see who this student is, if it doesn’t look anything like that student, it’s kind of difficult for me to identify or find them.”
MacArthur suggested that there are other means of identification that would not require Seaholm’s tradition to be broken.
“They’re saying that it’s for our safety because they want to be able to recognize our ID, but you can definitely recognize our ID,” MacArthur said. “If there’s an issue at school where a cop comes, we all have driver’s licenses. We could identify ourselves with that or something else. I think there should be no problem.”
The seniors reluctantly complied, wiping their makeup off in order to check out the textbooks and receive the parking passes that they were threatened not to be given if they continued to argue.
“We had a lot of issues with the people handling the ID,” senior Fotini Demitriou said. “After we completely washed our makeup off, they still said that we had some on. We even wiped our faces and showed it to them, and we still got a hard time about it.”
Additionally, in response to the administration’s apparent concern being safety, students questioned incidents in which their peers were asked to remove a ‘prop’, which would have arguably had no bearing on whether or not the student was identifiable, from the picture.
The rules appeared arbitrary; one student was allowed to keep her bathrobe on only if it was untied. Perhaps most notably, three girls had planned to all wear the same sweater in their pictures, and one was photographed in the sweater, but the other two were not allowed to change into it because it was deemed a prop.
“Literally anything that we did- beach theme, USA- they would have made us take it off because they had makeup wipes here,” MacArthur said.
Senior Aidan Scott came dressed as an elderly woman, wearing a barrette, earrings, and lipstick. He was initially told that he not allowed into registration until he wiped the lipstick off.
“I was scanning over my forms, and I saw that my mom made a mistake by saying I was a female instead of a male,” Scott said. “When I went back to registration and said I was a female, they let me through everything.”
Scott, however, was still not allowed to be photographed in his costume.
“When I got to the picture, they took me to Mrs. Stroughter who made me take it all off,” Scott said. “Stroughter said that I either had to take all of it off, or she had to mark all of my forms as female.”
Scott does not regularly wear makeup, nor does he identify as female, but his situation begs the question: why are boys not allowed to wear makeup in their ID pictures when a girl with the same exact amount of makeup on would have been permitted?
“It’s kind of disrespectful, I think, in some ways as well to the staff and to the people taking the pictures,” Hall said in her statement to the Highlander. “I think that we have to really measure what is appropriate.”
Hall finds that, while students’ intentions might be lighthearted and in the spirit of fun, certain themes can be interpreted as mockery.
“What is it you’re trying to communicate? Are you making fun of people who are older? Are you making fun of alcoholism if you come hungover? Last year it was people who had been in prison or abused,” Hall said. “Those kinds of things are the concerns that we have. It’s twofold; first, and primarily it’s a matter of safety, but secondly it’s a matter of appropriateness and respect.”
Nevertheless, Hall agrees that students should have been notified of the change to ID picture regulations.
“We probably should have let the students know in advance that we were going to do it,” Hall said. “We didn’t really have the opportunity, but definitely will in the future.”
Now, as the senior class recounts their registration, they do so with an air of disappointment.
“They changed it and didn’t tell anyone, so everyone spent a whole bunch of time and got really excited, and it just didn’t happen,” Chisholm said.