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GOWANDA: Grad decision gets high marks

Open minds and a willingness to listen is something we have lost in recent years in the United States, especially with the onset of social media. So how refreshing it was to see the Gowanda Board of Education act quickly after a request by a senior student.

Tia Thompson, at a recent board meeting, did a presentation requesting that Native American students be allowed to wear traditional attire at graduation. She noted that it already happens in another of area districts in Western New York.

It is specifically important this year. Thompson noted that 26% of Gowanda students are of native descent and 34% of the Class of 2020 have Native American heritage.

Her plea was filled with facts, significance and emotion. “I would do it for my mother, who never walked a graduation stage; my grandmother, an alumni, who did not have a choice; and my great-grandmother, who was a Thomas Indian survivor. All three of these women could see me walk across Hillis Field wearing my traditional regalia,” Thompson said. “You can make this possible by approving the choice for Native American students to practice a timeless tradition, one that was taken from them but can be given back starting now.”

Last week, the Gowanda school board unanimously agreed to her proposal. Thompson’s wish has become reality.

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