March 16, 2023 – At the March 15th CUSD School Board meeting, a group of high school students came in front of the school board to speak for positive reinforcement of their religious beliefs.
During the public presentation portion of the meeting, four students from Clovis East and Clovis North High Schools stood in front of the board and asked that they be allowed to wear specific stoles that would be visible at their high school graduations.
These stoles are awarded to the students of the Sikh Honors and Service Society, a statewide club and organization throughout high school campuses across California, who best exemplify the importance of leadership both inside and outside of the classroom.
Each student must also complete a yearly checklist of civic engagement, volunteering and community service.
The students also asked that the school board assist them in providing more Sikh awareness throughout CUSD as they claim there has not been enough done throughout the school district to “combat bullying against Sikh students.”
“Today I wish to shed light on the critical issue of Sikh awareness in each of Clovis Unified schools. While I commend some of the district’s school administrators and teachers for visible efforts towards creating a more inclusive campus, it is my belief that we still have a long way to go in recognizing Sikh students on campus.”
A Sikh Honors and Service Society (SHSS) officer from Clovis East claims that CUSD is the only school district throughout California that does not allow the wearing of the SHSS stoles.
“Every year our application to wear the stole has been denied and the reasoning is that we are a school club. However, this club and stole also allows us to have representation of our community as we graduate across the stage…Clubs like CSF and NHS can wear their cords because they are state and national organizations. Because we are a statewide organization, we would like to kindly ask the board to allow us to wear our NHSS stoles at graduation.”
After claiming that students from the past have asked for the authorization from CUSD to wear the stoles, one student speaker stated, “Today we are here in hopes of allowing students and future seniors to be granted this opportunity to represent the Sikh student body as we walk across the graduating stage, honoring the foundation of all our beliefs and commitments.”
Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Brien commented saying, “We have parameters around what can be worn-really in the interest of promoting unity during our graduation ceremonies. There are many different requests that we get over the years for different adornments. I do know that our principals will be happy to sit down with you if they haven’t already, to talk to you about the process of discussing the requests that one of our students made.”
The Sikh population throughout Clovis Unified and the Valley continues to grow as the ever increasing equity of demographics across Central California has a mounting significance on generations to come.
Dr. O’Brien also mentioned that CUSD is in the beginning stages of offering an ethnic studies class to students throughout the school district.
“We love listening to our students and building that culture of inclusion on our campuses.”