By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Divine Child High School announced it will not hand out modesty ponchos to girls at prom who do not meet school dress requirements.
A letter was sent home to parents by Divine Child Principal Eric Haley on May 1 after concerns arose from the ponchos on display inside the school.
He said that just like a majority of private and public schools, Divine Child asks students and parents follow the dress code when purchasing prom attire just like they would follow the dress code for classes and school events.
“Our intention with displaying the poncho was never to make students feel uncomfortable,” Haley said, “but to remind all students and parents of our formal prom dress policy, which has not changed for several years.
“To be clear: The poncho will not be passed out at prom. It was on display to proactively remind students of our dress code policies and eliminate any confusion prior to this special event. We recognize that it has done the opposite for some members of our community and draws away from our goal of having students adhere to the dress code.”
The prom poncho was put on display last week with a note reading, “If your dress does not meet our formal dance dress Requirements — no problem! We’ve got you covered — literally. This is our modesty poncho, which you’ll be given at the door.”
Once the poncho was posted on social media, it went viral and generated criticism just weeks before the Divine Child’s May 12 prom.
The modesty poncho was an idea that Divine Child Theology Teacher Mary Pat O’Malley came up with this year for prom.
“We are trying to focus on the inner beauty and not draw attention to something that doesn’t need attention drawn to it,” O’Malley told WJBK Channel 2. “It was really intended as a deterrent and a lighthearted one at that.”
In the letter sent home to parents, Haley said that the school encourages students to tailor their outfits or provide their own wraps or shawls that would meet the requirements.
“If necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years,” he said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)