Editorial: Imposing a graduation tax and subjecting seniors to a monopoly is grossly irresponsible

How do you spell monopoly? Based on Monday's assembly for seniors, it is pretty clear that the answer is J-O-S-T-E-N-S. Forced to sit through a 30 minute infomercial on the miscellaneous graduation paraphernalia available for purchase, one is left to wonder why our school monopolizes walking at graduation.

Essentially, there is a $26 tax to engage in the timeless, venerable activity of walking across the stage to receive a diploma as opposed to simply receiving in the mail. (Note: L-S Community Closet does assist students who cannot afford the cap and gown)

Seniors are required to purchase a cap and gown from Jostens (and are begged at this assembly to purchase much more -- if you purchase one package to the tune of over $200, your cap and gown is "free", however); if they do not, they cannot walk at graduation.* 

This begs the question: why?

Previously, seniors literally wore the choir robes to graduate. 

At most, seniors could be required to pay a rental fee or deposit for robes the school could own that would protect the school financially in case the robes are damaged or not returned.

Instead, the school props up a monopoly that makes money off of students graduating, and has license to spend 30 minutes attempting to lure seniors to buy additional memorabilia (we're talking about t-shirts that say "SENIOR 2016" … not exactly the "cool stuff" they try to brand it as either) and profit off the emotion the occasion conjures along with the inexperience of those participating in it.

"You only graduate once," the presenter said.

So why not purchase hundreds of dollars worth of trinkets and such to eternalize your underlying ignorance in doing so?

It would be one thing if Jostens was an enterprise that advertised on its own; if they can convince students to purchase graduation memorabilia like any other business, then more power to them.

But the concept of an assembly with mandatory attendance that gives Jostens a platform to advertise their products for 30 minutes and prey on the emotions of high school students is downright ludicrous and offensive, and the school should not stand for it. 

Students cannot participate in graduation without paying Jostens $26. That's ridiculous, but stop there. Don't give them license to prattle on about the other packages they offer.

Impose the graduation tax if you must, but then move on. Please.

*Editor's Note: After the LSNews.org editorial staff submitted this editorial for administrative review, a clarification was sent to seniors via text message that if an older sibling still has his or her cap and gown, one must not purchase a new one, but must still purchase a tassel.

This editorial reflects the collective opinion of the LSNews.org editorial board. Its lead author was editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz. It does not constitute an official position of the Lampeter-Strasburg School District. Questions or concerns may be directed to lspioneernews@gmail.com.

--THE EDITORIAL BOARD (BP)

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