Religious clashings with Vice Principal

I go to a uniformed, Catholic high school; and I’m an individual with no discernable religion. Those factors in themselves have posed several difficulties. However, the fact is that I’m an intelligent, friendly 15-year-old girl. I don’t discriminate religion openly in my school, I follow the dress code, and I do well in all my classes. All my teachers love me for my sense of humour and my participation in class. Luckily, I’m taught by young, eager teachers, and not old, brainwashed nuns. I make no effort to hide the fact that I’m not religious, as many other students do; but rarely have I encountered conflict because of this.

However, as I recently learned, my vice principal believes that I’m a rebellious, trouble-making, uncontrollable witch. Apparently, this goes all the way back to first semester of last year, when I wrote a particularly dark and twisted poem whilst under the influence of mononucleosis (…try writing anything even remotely sane when you’re chronically asleep and heavily medicated for three months!). He also remembered a particular incident on Halloween, which was ‘costume day.’ Naturally, I was a vampiric witch. Apparently, when he commented on my costume and I replied with “It’s not a costume,” he took me seriously. The man used to have a sense of humour, which I mistaked for still being present.

From what I can tell, the vp doesn’t talk to anyone else in the faculty. This semester I recieved the highest mark in religion. Now, most religious kids at my school don’t take that class seriously. I, however, find it rather interesting. I make a note of it to use my brain in all aspects of it; both to avoid getting brainwashed, and to let the teacher know that I’m peacefully Agnostic. I also recieved 100.2% in music class, and over 90% in tech. Now, are we dealing with a ‘problem’ student, here? I certainly hope not! My vp has made it clear that he doesn’t like me. Now, a large portion of this is due to the fact that he doesn’t have anything to get me in trouble for!

The most recent incident happened not a week ago, during exams. Since Christmas Break, I’ve been wearing a black cloak to school. I recieved this cloak from my boyfriend for Christmas, whom I only get to see a few times a year. When I cuddle up in it, it’s almost like I’m with him; but that’s a whole other story. The fact is that my cloak keeps my poor legs warm when I have to walk ten minutes to the bus stop in -30C weather in my kilt, and it’s something to snuggle up in to go to sleep for my hour bus ride. I have recieved many comments on it; many just stupidly made fun of me, others curiously enquired, some (including two teachers) complimented me on having ‘the nerve’ to be different in a school that’s so uniform. I wrote a letter to my vp regarding the incident, which will basically explain the whole thing:

“Mr. McCarroll; I felt the need to take action upon a certain situation that arose yesterday, which I shall discuss in this letter. I believe I received a detention yesterday, for a uniform violation. Firstly, let me explain the situation in full detail.

“My acquaintances and I, who had just spent a morning hard at study in the cafetorium, – completely uniformed – were merely out for a frolic in the snow to boost our awareness for the impending exam. I was wearing my kilt in the morning, and I wore it during the exam. However, due to the fact that I was about to go outside, I thought it simple logic to keep warm. Because I have a cold allergy (it’s in my school records), and I didn’t want to have a wet kilt during my exam, I changed into the jeans I wore under my kilt to school to keep my legs from breaking out in hives, for my brief time outside. My acquaintances were all wearing their coats – one in snowpants, to keep –his- legs warm. I myself was wearing my cloak and jeans, and we were waiting for one of our party to gather her coat at her locker; at which point, you entered the scene.

You came across one or two other students who were violating uniform regulations, then you questioned me with the reference in my direction of “…and what about you?” Because of your tone of voice, and general attitude toward the situation, I was unable to voice my reason for being partially out of uniform. From what I could tell, my name was recorded onto a clipboard for a detention to be served tomorrow (Friday). My objections to this are reasonable.

“Foremostly, I feel that I was unfairly targeted. Certainly, it is unjust to treat all students as delinquents because of a certain clothing issue. Personally, I have always been a law-abiding citizen and a respecting student. I’m timid to authority, and avoid confrontation. I find it easier to discuss issues in writing, rather than face-to-face. When confronted in such a manner, I felt as though I had done something horribly wrong, and I was certainly not given the chance for a word edgewise. Also, my friend in the snowpants and coat was certainly –more- out of uniform than I, so I can only assume that I was being picked on for whatever reason, or simply chosen at random as someone who ‘stood out.’

“I have begun to feel as though I’m being written a place into your ‘bad’ books, but the reasons for such ideas are certainly debatable. A month or so ago, you approached a group of my acquaintances and I as we were gleefully frolicking in the antechamber by the old staff room. Now, students have been using these antechambers for socializing and schoolwork, I’m sure, since the beginning of the school. My party and I had found it to be a place of solace, and went there often at lunch when it was too cold to go outside. We were told that being in the antechamber was a fire hazard, so we moved to the cafetorium as you instructed. Since then, we have not entered any antechamber for any other purpose than entering or exiting the school. However, after we had willingly left our place, we were –again- approached in the cafetorium by you. We had been innocently expressing our creativity by engaging in an imaginary snowball fight, and were sitting in the lost and found corner. We were again shooed from our place of contemplation with the only reason being ‘you can’t sit here, folks.’

Though we did not –truly- understand, we obeyed. We’ve been sitting at tables since, and expressed ourselves in the only way we have left (until the custodians become wrathful of us); making garbage sculptures. Yes, we throw out all our garbage every day, though the custodians seem wary of such.

“Another incident had to do with the ‘red stuff’ in my locker. You approached me in the hall with reference to it. I sensed what was coming, and immediately agreed to clean it off. I was not aware that doing such was against school policy; the substance was water-based, and came off rather easily. My locker mate and I had been planning to clean it off sometime soon, anyway. I felt that both your tone and lecture of ‘school property’ were unnecessary. A simple explanation in a suggestive, rather than accusatory tone, would have sufficed. I am best approached gently, and respond better that way. I was instructed to return to speak to you once the locker was clean, which I did. You were busy, and I asked the secretary to call me to the office when you were free to speak to me. You never did; I don’t know if you’re still holding a grudge, if you think I learned my lesson, or if you simply forgot. I have not found rest or closure in the matter, and since have become intimidated –even frightened- of you.

“The underlying reason for writing this letter, however, has only to do with the first issue. I have discussed this with my parents, and they have supported me in writing this letter to you to express my feelings. If you feel that a detention is necessary, they request that it be served when I return to school on Tuesday. I have no exams on Friday or Monday, and would essentially be serving a detention from 7:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. I feel that this would be unfair, considering that I do not see my behaviour as a violation of school policy, since I was only dressed to go outside.

Overall, I ask only that you take what I have said into consideration. I feel that I have been unfairly judged. I do not want to lose your respect. I try hard to respect everyone else, though I may not share their views, and I don’t believe in ridicule when one is not blatantly trying to be ‘bad.’ Nothing I do is meant as disregard to the policies of the school, or of other individuals.

“I will serve whatever detentions you choose to give to me on Tuesday. Thank you for your time and patience in reading this during such a busy period in the school. I hope that I have cleared up my image in your eyes, or at least opened them to deeper speculation.”

Now, in addition to this letter, my mother called Mr. McCarroll to verify that I would not be there Friday. From there, he got into a rant about my cloak. As it turns out, that was the reason he gave me the detention. He doesn’t like my cloak, and claims that I look like a witch in it. He then went on to say how sorry he felt for me, and lectured my mother on how she had no control over me!

Needless to say, my dear mother did her best to set him straight. Still, I find it disturbing that he had gained that kind of opinion about me based soley on my choice of dress. I do tend to dress ‘dark,’ but I don’t think it’s anything that would really been considered ‘goth.’ Certainly, I dress as I feel comfortable dressing, which is somewhere between Skater, Goth, Mental Assulum Patient, Grunge, Dark Princess from Medieval Times, and Average Everyday Wallflower Teen. McCarroll probably doesn’t much like the black, leather, knee-high, lace-up combat boots I wear with my kilt, either.

My mother has always been really supportive of me. Though she used to be a Lutheran minister, we never went to church. Mom didn’t like what the church had become, and though she’s religious, she doesn’t have the whole thing twisted around, like too many Catholics I’ve seen.

Well, my name was not called for detention, which might say something. Honestly, there’s little reason he should be working at our school. Students have threatened to charge him before, from everything from harassment, to plagairizing their signatures. No one seems to have the guts to do it, though. Now that I know I’m on his ‘bad’ list, I can’t make any mistakes. He will expect me to rebel with something he can get me in trouble before. This characteristic has been observed in nearly all the OA students I’ve talked to.

As it stands, mom has suggested that I don’t wear my cloak to school. Being in McCarrolls ‘bad’ books is something that can make my life a hell, I know. However, I feel positively degraded because of this! I have every right to be able to wear my warm, cuddly, special cloak to that school, however, doing so will only further agrivate McCarroll.

At this point, I’m asking for advice. Should I wear my cloak to school, and just not say anything to him about it unless he approaches me? Should I approach him and try to explain the whole cloak thing? Should I ask a -teacher- to explain it to him (I can think of about five who would do that for me)? Should I just leave it and be the most perfect, angelic student in the entire school to keep him happy with me? I love my cloak! I wish to be treated as human! I may be a witch by definition, but I’m just trying to keep my individuality!

~”You laugh at me because I’m different, but I laugh at you because you’re all the same!”

By thepsychoraven

I am the midnight wanderess


  1. That’s actually rather backwards from my experiences, because I do believe in God, but was widely feared in my high school. My mother still has the hard copy proof that two of my teachers were in mortal terror of me. I suppose it boils down to the same situation on the most basic level; no one ever bothered to ask what I held in my heart or mind, and so they formed their own mythology about me. It is truly something when nearly two-thousand people know you by no other name than Satan. So be it. I learned to part crowds like the Dead Sea without a word, and to threaten certain doom with a look. It hurt me as far as society interaction and success is concerned. The councilors would avoid me, and I had to find my own way. I took their advice early on and took all the most advanced classes I could, and ended up barely scraping by with high C’s. So now I hold an Advanced with Honors Diploma, the best attainable from my high school, and a letter of rejection from the university. I am 22 years old, and only in the past six months have been able to make a career move, so my point is proven. Still, I accept my situation as any honest person should, as one that is in my control. If I had been able to tolerate the sheep around me, I would have been in a much better place by now. Instead, I held my pride like a banner and stood alone to make my way. I have been long in moving up, but I owe nothing to anyone. Anything I have done, I have done myself, and bringing that to mind heartens me, and helps me spiritually.

    …and I laugh when I remember that one of the few members of the faculty I could actually talk to and be taken seriously by, was the Vice Principal. Fancy that.

  2. In middle school i was the focus of everybody’s wrath because i was the acquaintance of a clique full of goth people. Not only now is it that i am still friends with them people but i am proven to be more academically focused than the people that once gave me hell. You just have to put your mind to the task at hand because in the end they prove that being yourself truly has its advantages

  3. Your situation parellels mine so closely it’s frightening. I am also a 15 year old female attendee of a uniformed Catholic school. I’ve fought many battles over the school dress code, and I’ve been ordered to read it so many times that I have it memorized: “Extreme hair styles or colors are NOT permitted. ‘Extreme’ will be determined by the administration.” What I’ve learned is this: play the game. Catholic high schools skeeve nonconformity and they’re going to give you hell for it until you graduate. Be yourself within the rules. If I were you I wouldn’t give up the cloak – I’ve been pressured by my parents to give up wearing my calf-high docs with the purple and blue flames painted on them, but I still wear them.

    I don’t think you should approach him – I would pretend he doesn’t exist until he approaches you. Leave it alone unless he brings it up again. Read your student handbook – I doubt there’s any rule about cloaks. email me to chat more on this, the address is I am probably the most experienced person when it comes to things like this…unfortunatly.

  4. A confusing situation to be sure. The answer to your question depends on what you want to deal with, and what you don’t. I, personally, being a 15 yr. old girl that does not have such restrictions on clothing, but does have a VP that restricts anything remotely odd within my ‘group’, would wear the cloak and i’d be damned if I was going to let some pompous jerk stop me from doing so. Standing up for yourself is an important thing. So, wear the cloak. But do not approach him, because by doing so you are addressing it as a possible problem, when you should act as innocent as you truly are. If and when he does approach you, I would merely say: “This is not against any rule, only your opinion.” Which is true. You don’t have to listen to him if he is not justified in what he is asking of you. That’s what I would do anyway….

  5. A couple of words here, from the old guy…..
    This is NOT the ranting of a “troubled student” This IS a letter by one who is being wronged, and only by association with a misconception. If there were a Black student, would he call him…”Boy”?
    Does he screen all the kids with Irish surnames for alcohol? He has been reading from some paper published about (or at least aftermath of….) Columbine. There was a “Professional” on the “TODAY” show yesterday that advocated all kinds of interference in kids lives based on if they…”Start dressing Goth”. The bias is out there….and no one wants to put an end to it. (well, we DO want to, but it’s PART of our “stereotype” to be passive…)
    Point #2, (or is this 3 or 4?) SIGNATURES aren’t plagiarized. THAT is called FORGERY, and is a FELONY. You and the rest need to be 10000% sure before saying so to an official, as the backlash for false prosecution of a felony can be severe.
    Next point….(whatEVER number…)
    There are NO “Norm” clothes more Goth than school uniforms. They are “Goth-wear” by nature.
    I would take your mother’s advice. I would also find someone you trust, there, (Even if it’s a priest…) and discuss this letter with him. Explain in advance that this needs to be confidential. They generally will respect that, from ANY student. Gather evidences from some of the other students to support your theses, and see what they have to say. BUT!!! DON’T OBSESS over it! You’ll lose track of everything else, and your standing will slip!

    Hope it helps,

  6. I had the same problem but mine was a different coloured jumper which was school colour but not the one that the school sold us. The way I countered this was I typed out a letter on the computer about two lines long saying that I was given permission by my parents to wear the jumper and have it copied and pasted several times on one sheet of paper. Get each one signed and make your own little booklet of excuse notes. This is a legal way of wearing the cloak. Only hand a note over to a teacher/vp if they ask you why/about wearing it.

    They have no legal right to remove the cloak from you or take action against it. Do not however make it a big deal unless you read the school policies and can certainly come to a conclusion that it is not illegal to wear such an item of clothing.

    Never Give In To Those Who Abuse Their Power…

  7. Detention? Hell, down here in Hick central they dont dick around with detention, they still have my old favorite CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. Thats right, the old polocy of “Do that anymore, its three outside the door.” Course, even thats better than the mindless brainwasher councellor giving you some shit.

  8. Oh, there’s absoloutly nothing that implies I cannot wear such an article of clothing. I follow every rule in the planner to a T. Yes, even when I’m wearing my knee-high boots, I am wearing my navy knee-socks underneath. The vice principal did talk to me, and I explained the nature of the cloak. He said that he didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, I sent him on a bizarre ‘niceness’ spree. It’s rather amusing. He’ll walk up to students in the hall and start being randomly friendly. Of course, this only scares the students more. “Oh, God, he’s being nice. He’s going to snap. He’s going to snap. He’s going to snap.. *cowers away*”

    At any rate, I have been wearing the cloak to school for the past month. I’ve stopped getting any negative comments on it; everyone accepts it. In fact, the only comments I get now are positive ones. I think everyone’s more interested in that bizarre skill I demonstrated at last Tuesday’s Coffee House when I played the piano whilst facing away from it with my hands behind my back. Errr… yes, us lefty/ambidextrous people have some interesting brain wiring, no?

    At any rate, my little conversation with my vp was rather humerous. Translated from McCarroll (his own language, based soley on making it sound like he’s right all the time, even when he’s made a mistake): I thought you were a bizarre freak who was out to gun down the school, but now I reailze that you’re a good, normal student. When you grow up, you’ll want to protect your children from people like you. I’m sorry about that, so, yes, wear your pretty cloak and run along, now. Oh, and there’s a corner of your shirt untucked.”

  9. Ahh, but in my planner, McCarroll has eliminated all grey areas. There is nothing to be left for judgement, it’s all compeltely and thoroughly described. Footwear, hairstyle and belts are our domain. Now, Kelly had a mohawk in the form of a Satanic cross for a while, and I suppose ‘they’ may have told him to get rid of it. The funny thing is, it took them over three months to seemingly realise that it was supposed to resemble the symbol in the first place. They don’t complain about suspenders or wallet chains, pink fluffy slippers, bizarre hair colours and styles, or makeup. For this I am glad. Well, I don’t have suspenders, or a wallet chain (no pockets in my kilt), or a bizarre hair colour/style, and I don’t wear makeup, so… hmm.. I guess it’s the concept, not the application. I’m going to lace my boots with purple shoelaces. Yes, yes I am. (= My cold medication is also purple. It tastes good, but it’s not that effective.

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