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Bill Bolde: In recognition of those who serve our country

Posted: March 5, 2009 11:17 p.m.
Updated: March 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Over the past six years, Saugus High School has had nine graduating seniors gain acceptance to various academies of the United States armed forces.

We know that more than 100 other Centurion students over that time have made a commitment to join the U.S. military and serve their country.

As principal, I’ve been most proud of these students’ accomplishments and their willingness to be trained to one day trek to remote parts of the world to man a post or engage in combat to protect the freedoms we enjoy every day.

These students embody bravery, courage and leadership. I respect their character and I long to honor their commitment.

Recently, I received a request by a parent of a student who graduated early to allow her son to walk in the commencement ceremony this June in full Marine dress blues.

My original thoughts can best be categorized under two umbrellas — personal values and school protocols. Fundamentally, I value the human price we pay as a nation each year to protect our liberties. Affording a student who graduated early and who is proud of his new title as a United States Marine to walk in his uniform at graduation is a positive thing for the student, the school and the community.

Administratively, I recognized that we have never done anything like this before. We have consistently had the practice of all graduates wearing the traditional cap and gown during the ceremony.

In fact, we’ve always had the wording in the contract for seniors that specifically states “no alterations, substitutions or modifications” may be made to the attire.

As is common with many leaders in all walks of life, I take council with many of my administrative peers, educational colleagues and respected friends.

Through the process of searching for the appropriate resolve, I entertained calls from Congressman McKeon’s office and Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office. I had conversations with Mr. Castellanos, my superintendent, as well as other district leaders.

I have even talked directly to officers of the U.S. Marine Corps. I believe it is always most prudent to gather as much information as possible while making significant decisions that affect a lot of people.

Last Friday, I called the young man’s mom and asked if we might be able to meet again. I wanted to hear her heart and try to look through a new lens.

She conveyed to me the importance of her son’s wish to wear the uniform. From the time he was a toddler, all he wanted was to be a Marine.

We had a wonderful exchange and I told her that I would not only advocate for her son to walk in his uniform, but I would champion a resolution that would allow other students who become members of the military as early grads the same accord.

That night, I was able to talk to the Saugus graduate who was in basic training at Camp Pendleton. It was an inspiring conversation.

The next morning, I went to my office and drafted some language that could be presented to Administrative Council and, upon approval, be forwarded to the governing board.

I feel confident that that process is going down a positive pathway for this year and in the future ... for Saugus High School and all schools in the Hart district.

I am a proud American who honors and prays daily for our military leaders as well as the men and women all over the world who make up our armed forces.

My intent has never been to dishonor those who stand watch for our liberties. This week, I have had follow-up conversations with the mom and know that she has been very complimentary of the resolution to her son’s request.

Her son, Nicholas Laccabue, is going to walk proudly in his dress blues at the Saugus High School graduation ceremony June 3.

I am looking forward to putting the Lamp of Learning medallion around his neck, shaking his hand and telling him “well done” as he crosses the stage.

Bill Bolde is principal of Saugus High School. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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