A Burning Issue
In the fall of 1961, the first “flaming I” was ignited and the tradition known as the Burning of the “I” had begun. Forty-seven years later, Headmaster Val Iwashita sent a letter to the Sons and Daughters of the Class of 2010 announcing his decision to cancel the Burning of the “I” ceremony. What could cause such a longstanding tradition to suddenly be wiped out?
“We should not have an event that causes conflict within the senior class,” Dr. Iwashita said. For almost a decade, complaints have intensified from students, advisors and teachers regarding the exclusivity of the ceremony. And for the past five years, Dr. Iwashita along with other members of the faculty, have been discussing how to revise the event.
Also in the past five years, students have been asked what could be done to make the ceremony better. However, Dr. Iwashita said that no consensus could ever be reached. The Sons and Daughters valued the importance, history and honor of the ceremony, while other students saw it as exclusive. Naturally, since the Sons and Daughters are the minority of the class, it would be unfair to cancel the ceremony solely based on student response. So instead of asking the students of the Class of 2010 their opinion, Dr. Iwashita took the matter into his own hands and canceled the Burning of the “I.”
But to his surprise, parents, and students rallied to bring back the Burning of the “I” as an inclusive ceremony. Dr. Iwashita will strongly consider brining back the event if it includes everyone. “I want the class to have a healthy, happy experience,” Iwashita said, “So I welcome an alternative that’s non-exclusive.”
Some ideas that have been suggested in the past include: the whole class being involved, opening the event to seniors as well as select underclassmen, having class representatives or having a lottery. However, Iwashita pointed out that having 230 students burn the “I” may be a safety hazard.
So is there a way to bring back the Burning of the “I”? Members of the Class of 2010 and others have organized a powerful and positive rally for change, and the more support they get; the more likely the Burning of the “I” will be restored for the 48th year for everyone.