Oxford High School class of 2023 receive pushback for wanting to wear symbol of survival at ceremony

Oxford seniors will walk across the stage and close this chapter of their lives Thursday

OXFORD, Mich. – It’s been a challenging four years for the Oxford High School Class of 2023 as they survived a school shooting in 2021 and a pandemic.

This Thursday (May 18), Oxford seniors will walk across the stage and close this chapter of their lives.

Josie Stoffan is headed to the University of Michigan.

“I have been very excited to just start my life and go to college and get a fresh start,” said Stoffan.

Oxford Community Schools handed out navy and gold cords at graduation rehearsal to seniors to pay tribute to the strength and fortitude it took to make it to commencement.

It was in response to some students wanting to wear orange chords to reflect that they are gun violence survivors. Orange is a color associated with gun violence awareness.

“I did have a few conversations with one of my administrators,” Stoffan said. “I am really thankful that they were very open with discussion and open to hearing our opinions.”

“The reason I am not approving or endorsing the orange cord that is being distributed by an outside organization is because the tradition of Oxford High School’s Graduation has been to keep the focus solely on students and their accomplishments. My endorsement of other symbolic graduation wear would set a precedent that could erode that tradition and, more importantly, the focus on students and their accomplishments.”

Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Markavitch

Even without district approval, some students still planned to wear orange cords or something orange at commencement. And George Stoffan, Josie Stoffan’s father, will be wearing orange in the audience, along with other parents and family members of graduating seniors.

“It’s important for a community that has been through what we have been through to make a statement,” said George Stoffan.

The district also gave charm tassels for seniors to wear Thursday (May 18), which included pictures of their classmate who was killed in the shooting and another who died in a car accident.

About the Authors:

Will Jones rejoined the Local 4 News team in February 2023 as a weekend anchor and reporter. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter for the station from 2012 to 2015.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.