A Lawrence High School girl on Friday found herself caught between prankster-playing seniors and school administrators.
Sophomore Tori Hawk, 16, showed up for school dressed "bizarre-looking," according to a note from one of her teachers.
Hawk said she was ordered to dress that way by seniors who were participating in an old tradition called SWAS, which stands for "sophomores worship all seniors."
"A senior tells you to do something, you are supposed to do it," Hawk said. "Some people are told to dress weird."
Hawk's bizarre dress included a swimsuit and tank tops, a skirt, leggings, volleyball socks and sandal-type shoes.
Hawk was pulled out of class after a teacher notified the principal's office. An assistant principal told her she had to go home and change her clothes. That meant calling her mother, Lori Nation, who had to leave work and pick up her daughter.
"It's fun for everybody and not meant to be mean," Hawk said. "If it was mean, the sophomores wouldn't do it."
But if a sophomore doesn't follow a senior's directions, there's an implication that there will be consequences, Hawk said.
Students had been warned not to participate in SWAS activities, Hawk and LHS Principal Steve Nilhas said. A few students earlier in the week also were asked not to come dressed the same way again, Nilhas said. He didn't know of anyone other than Hawk being sent home to change, however.
Nilhas described SWAS as a bad habit that needed to be broken.
"No matter how people want to spin it, SWAS is a hazing activity," he said. "Asking kids to dress up in ways that are demeaning is not appropriate, even if the kids themselves who are being asked to dress up think it's OK."
Nation was upset because, she said, the high school had not notified parents last week that the weird clothing would not be tolerated and that SWAS might surface.
Nilhas said he understood Nation's concerns. There had not been problems with SWAS incidents in recent years, but it might be necessary to be more proactive against it, he said.