www.whyville.net Jun 20, 2003 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Fight the Tags!

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It was a chilly November day in 2001 when my school introduced the I.D. tags to our population. I remember my eighth grade homeroom teacher holding up a maroon lanyard with an I.D. tag attached to the hook on it. I was sitting in the back and I couldn't really see what she was holding up. I was squinting away when she announced, "These are the new identification tags our school district ordered! I have one for each of you, and if you don't wear it at all times, it's an automatic detention."

These words were chilling. I felt like some sort of freedom was being taken away from me. I was enraged and I couldn't really explain why.

The tags were passed out. I watched with a sense of dread as my entire homeroom class put on the tags without a complaint. I wondered if I was the only one who felt this way. I put on the tag reluctantly and looked around, feeling defeated without even having put up a fight.

I had to think up some way of resisting this. I didn't really have a good reason in my mind for not wanting to wear the I.D. tags. I just didn't want to wear a big lanyard that would cover up my new fall shirts. But later that day, at lunch, I talked to one of my close friends. He was upset about the tags too. I asked why, and he explained that his religion taught that each photograph taken of a person takes away a bit of that person. The I.D. tags had each student's photograph displayed on it. "Hmm... maybe we're onto something here!" I though that day. I found that belief very interesting and knew that our school district was violating his belief, in a way. Maybe this could be my excuse to get rid of the tags.

Many other religions have similar beliefs. In Judaism, it is forbidden from making a "graven image", and some very religious Jews don't like having their pictures taken for this reason. My aforementioned friend has Native American beliefs, and his thoughts on photographs come from his family's tribe from many generations ago.

The school district was violating his beliefs unintentionally, though. During that school week, we all received letters explaining the name tags. I kept that letter, so here's a few lines from it:

"To ensure students' safety in our school building, we have issued identification tags. We're hoping that this will prevent from a Columbine-like incident from happening at our district. All students must wears the name tags at all times while in the building. Those who refuse to wear the tag will be given detention, and further punishment if they refuse to attend the detention. See handbook."

This letter, in my perspective, really doesn't explain the reason for wearing the I.D. tags at all. How could the tags really prevent a school shooting? A student is more likely to do a school shooting then an intruder by far. The only time when our school would check the tags was in homeroom and at the beginning of each class. So what good do they really do?

Anyway, I took all of my beliefs and several other student's beliefs about the I.D. tags and made a very persuasive petition. It stated everything about the religious issues, and ultimately asked the real conundrum: why must we wear these things? I managed to get the signature of nearly every student in the school, from grades six through eight, and even two teachers! I was really quite proud.

So, feeling good, I handed my petition in to the assistant principal for consideration. As I waited for his solution to the I.D. tag problem, I searched the Internet for some more debates on the whole issue. I found a very interesting site called the Anti Name Tag Brigade. I didn't really know what to think because it sounded kind of... well... harsh. But the site stated my beliefs pretty well, so I told everyone the site address and managed to drum up even more interest.

Finally, one day in homeroom, the assistant principal came over the loudspeaker. "SamGirl21... please report to the office immediately!" the loudspeaker blared (okay, so it didn't say SamGirl21, but you get my point). I reported to the office and met the principal and assistant principal. They said that they understood my position and they had, along with the school board, decided to change the guidelines. I.D.'s would not be required to be worn, but to be carried with the student at all times. If asked, the student would present the I.D. at a teacher or administrator's request. No more lanyards were to be worn around the neck.

I was so psyched. I couldn't wait to tell everyone. It even got better when my picture was in my town's newspaper along with my friend that helped me to get where I was. I hope that I encouraged other kids to get out there and stand up for what they believe in. And that if needed, a kid could even make their views heard by an authority figure.


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