LOS ANGELES – Thousands of high school seniors in Southern California are preparing to graduate, but some wonder if they'll ever put on a cap and gown.
A controversial new policy affecting eight high schools asks seniors who wish to walk in graduation ceremonies to first submit a plan and documentation proving they're going to college, a trade school or the military.
Some people like the idea of demanding more of counselors and seniors, but others find it unfair.
"There's other ways to motivate kids rather than a punitive way," parent Miriam Koenig said.
"For us to be forced to tell them what we're doing with plans afterwards I don't think is a right," senior Regina Uchitel said.
Guidance counselor Elia Sheiner says it’s robbing the kids of more than a simple afternoon in gowns.
"Bottom line, the graduation ceremony is supposed to be a ceremony of 12 years of hard work and dedicated academic required courses, and they're taking something away from them," Sheiner said. "A lot of parents and kids think this is punitive in some areas."
But superintendent Bob Collins says many people misunderstand his policy. He says a waiver is available to any student ... So that no one will be turned away from the ceremony. His ultimate goal is to motivate students.
It was never about just going to college," he said. "It was not about telling people what to do. It’s about asking students, what’s your future, what do you think your future is? How can we help you? How can we guide you?"
And some students say it works.
"I myself know of a couple of students that decided to go to the military or maybe even pursue college where they wouldn’t have if it weren't for this policy," senior Amir Gamliel said.
Most people agree the intent of the policy is beneficial for students, but the confusion surrounding it may cloud the results. Some students who feel their futures are a personal choice say they'll end up boycotting their graduation.