Is Kapiti ready for 'bearded schoolchildren'?

Is Kapiti ready for 'bearded schoolchildren'?

Not many high school boys can grow a decent beard, but a group of Kapiti College students are fighting for the right to at least try.

Problem is, their principal isn't convinced the community is ready for "bearded schoolchildren".

"When I was at the same stage of school, long hair was trendy and I did no different to the kids," principal Tony Kaye told Paul Henry. "I pushed against the rules, as you do, as a teenager."

Five year 13 students started a petition as part of a social studies project, expecting 20 or 30 signatures at most from family and friends - but it quickly got into the hundreds.

They took the petition to Mr Kaye, a required step as part of the assignment.

"I said, 'That's cool, that's fine'. Then they took that to the board of trustees."

The board said it wasn't up to them to decide, and sent it back to the school's management.

"We were split on it as well - a couple were saying, 'Well, it probably is reasonable', and a couple of grizzled old-timers like myself are just really not that sure that's what the community wants."

Year 13 students at Kapiti College are already allowed to wear mufti.

"There's reasonable freedom for year 13 students," says Mr Kaye. "We're reasonably relaxed on most things in a fair and reasonable way."

But while girls are also allowed to express their individuality through jewellery and makeup, boys who manage to sprout any facial hair are marched out of class and given a razor.

"The kids' argument of course was, this doesn't affect our learning. But nor does lots of things," says Mr Kaye. He told Fairfax "safety pins through noses" and "sieg heil tattoos" also don't affect kids' learning, but wouldn't be tolerated.

"I don't think as an argument it was good enough. My counterargument was I'm not sure the community is ready for bearded schoolchildren."

The school will be surveying parents shortly to see if the community truly is ready for bumfluff beards and wispy moustaches.