Colorado mom: After shaving furor, focus on friend
After a Grand Junction third-grader shaved her head to support a cancer-stricken buddy, the mother wants an end to the national furor over a school’s reaction to the act of solidarity and the focus to shift to the 11-year-old friend’s recovery.
The board of directors of the charter school, the Caprock Academy, voted Tuesday to let Kamryn Renfro remain. Officials had earlier barred her, saying she violated the dress code by shaving her head over the weekend.
The Denver Post (https://tinyurl.com/ov9gfhc) reported Wednesday that Kamryn’s mother, Olson Renfrew, took her daughter to Denver Tuesday to be with her friend ahead of a hospital visit. Renfrew called on people who have been following the story to support Delaney Clements, who has been fighting childhood cancer since she was 7.
GRAND JUNCTION —
The phone on the front desk at Caprock Academy rang incessantly Tuesday as a flustered receptionist admitted she had given up trying to answer it. The charter school’s website was jammed. So was its Facebook page.
The K-12 school was in the midst of a bald crisis precipitated by a dress code gone wrong.
Caprock third-grader Kamryn Renfro had shaved her head over the weekend to show support for good friend 11-year-old Delaney Clements, who is not a student at Caprock. Clements has been fighting the childhood cancer neuroblastoma since she was 7 and is bald from chemotherapy. Caprock administrators told Renfro’s parents their daughter couldn’t return to classes Monday because her bald head violated the school’s dress code.
On Tuesday, school administrators relented and allowed Renfro back but not before her upset mother had posted a message about her daughter’s suspension on Facebook. Clements’ mother also posted Facebook comments about the incident. A social-media firestorm erupted. While thousands of “likes” and messages popped up supporting the girls, Caprock Academy became the scourge de jour of the digital world.
“This is preposterous!!”
“This is absolutely shameful!”
“This is ridiculous!”
“Where is this school, another frickin’ planet?”
A wave of critics paralyzed Caprock’s own website, where the only thing that could be accessed Tuesday was the link to “reviews” of the 7-year-old school of 750 students. They weren’t kind. Many were too profane to quote.
School officials declined to comment on the matter or on the criticism heaped on the school.
Many critics pointed out that they took exception to the school’s mission statement in light of an action they viewed as contrary to part of that statement: “Our mission is to help all students achieve their highest academic and character potential using proven, accelerated academic programs, while providing a safe environment.”
School administrators met Tuesday evening and by a 3-1 vote approved a waiver to the dress code for exceptional circumstances such as going bald to show solidarity with a cancer patient.
While all this was playing out in acrimony and the national media was focusing attention on Caprock Academy, a young cancer patient with a beaming, toothy grin was taking it all in stride.
Clements was in Denver for her latest appointment at Children’s Hospital, where she will find out Wednesday if her system is strong enough to undergo more chemotherapy for her fourth relapse of neuroblastoma. She said it has been helpful having friends willing to shave their heads while she is bald from chemotherapy. It makes it easier to withstand the teasing she sometimes gets about looking like a boy.
“It feels good to have my friends be there for me and to know I am not alone, ” Clements said.
Another friend also shaved her head last week, but she didn’t encounter any opposition at the public school she attends. More friends have vowed to also shave their heads.
Clements will have a bald Renfro with her for her latest hospital visit. Renfro’s mother, Jamie Olson Renfro, decided after the emotional brouhaha to take her daughter to Denver to be with her friend, even though she was being allowed back in class.
Olson Renfro also made a Facebook peace offering to Caprock Academy, writing that the school was supportive and compassionate to her daughter even while deciding to enforce the dress code.
She asked all those now following the saga to move beyond the bald controversy and keep in mind the more important issue: “Delaney is still in the fight of her life, and needs as much love, support and prayers as she can get.”