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Kamryn Renfro

Kamryn Renfro

Erin Cox and Adrionna Harris, meet Kamryn Renfro.

Erin, as we recently mentioned, is the high school honors student and volleyball star in Massachusetts who was punished by her school for not letting a friend drive drunk, and therefore exposed herself to a party where alcohol was being consumed. Adrionna is the middle school girl in Virginia who was punished by her school for stopping a friend from cutting himself and therefore possessed a blade for about ten seconds before she could throw it away.

 And Kamryn? Well, she is a nine-year-old in Colorado who was punished by her school for showing profound compassion and empathy.

What, in God’s name, are we teaching our children?

Kamryn Renfro attends Caprock Academy, a charter school in Grand Junction, Colorado, under the jurisdiction of its own school board. Kamryn’s 11-year-old best friend, Delaney Clements, has been fighting neuroblastoma, a serious childhood cancer, since she was seven. Delaney currently has no hair as the result of aggressive chemotherapy.

Other students often teased her. “People would sometimes call me a boy even though I was all dressed in pink,” Delaney told the local CBS affiliate.

With her wise parents’ permission, Kamryn had her own hair shaved off in support of her friend, and to make her feel less alone. The problem was that this act of empathy violated Caprock’s dress code, “which was created to promote safety, uniformity and a non-distracting environment for the school’s students.”

Kamryn was suspended and told not to come back without a wig or until her hair grows back.

Well. . .

Personally, I don’t see how two little girls with bald heads in any way compromise safety. As for uniformity, I’ve always thought it was an overrated virtue in a free society; I will take character over uniformity and conformity any day. And as to a non-distracting environment, maybe this is the kind of real life challenge by which the students ought to be distracted. It’s what’s known in the current vernacular as a “teachable moment.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of the students in the school shaved their heads to promote a new uniformity to show how much they care for their classmate and the ordeal no child should ever have to suffer?

After a predictable uproar, the school board relented, but shamefully, not by a unanimous vote. Kamryn is now being permitted to return to school and her act of courage and integrity is being accepted due to “exigent and extraordinary circumstances.”

But come on, folks! How many times do we have to go through this kind of nonsense all over the country? Why did it take a public uproar and a school board vote to determine that little Kamryn was not being rebellious, disobedient or ornery and was instead demonstrating the highest human values there are?

Like Erin Cox and Adrionna Harris, Kamryn Renfro knew instinctively what was the right thing to do. Why can’t the adults charged with these fine young ladies’ moral and intellectual development show the same good instincts? Are they too lazy to think their way through each individual situation, or are “uniformity and a non-distracting environment” considered higher values?

When asked why she did what she did, Kamryn told USA Today, simply, “It felt like the right thing to do.”

You tell ’em, beautiful Kamryn, though you shouldn’t have to.

7 Responses to And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

  1. whosear says:

    To rules and regulations, there are two parts, spirit and letter. Zero tolerance ignores the spirit and enforces the letter, no matter how stupid, silly, embarrassing or harmful.

    As for American public education, that it seeks conformity is no mystery. That has been its goal since it’s inception. I follow and at times write for the modern university’s advance towards unconstitutional repression of speech. The battle is for this conformity, between the left and the right. Eliminate it, and we are all better off. Americans have a flawed belief of what individuality means. Having pink hair is not individuality, character is, as Mr. Olshaker points out. Canadians are more individualistic than Americans.

  2. Rainsong says:

    Schools demand conformity while society demands individuality.

    People undergoing radiation and chemotherapy are already insecure about their prognosis and then they have to deal with their altered appearance/mobility/cognizance to boot. To have someone support them the way this child did for her friend is the best healing one can give. I know the love and support from family and friends that my husband and I received during his brain cancer journey was at times the only thing that held it all together for us.

    Rather than being ousted from school, Kamryn should have been awarded a Citizen of the Year medal.

  3. Tom Mininger says:

    I think we have to remind kids that grown-ups act childish sometimes.

  4. mdricex says:

    I think Mr. Mark Twain said it best:

    “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.”

    Some people will never learn, but, thankfully, some people will never stop trying to do the right thing.

  5. Cornerstone says:

    Unbelievable. But you know what? Next time someone’s kid gets sent home for a dress/hair code violation, some stupid parent will bring this up as an example for why their kid shouldn’t be punished either. I just hope when they do it makes the papers and humiliates the crap out of them.

    • I think you’ve defined the essence of the current problem, Cornerstone: No one seems to want to take the time, trouble or imagination to deal with individual situations. I think that’s why zero tolerance has gained such a foothold.

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