Loyalty to a stricken friend costs little girl a day at school

It's the feel-good story of this or just about any other year. A nine year old girl shaved her head in a show of friendship and solidarity with her BFF who is stricken with childhood cancer and lost her hair due to chemotherapy.

A heartwarming and inspiring story, yes? School officials didn't see it that way when Kamryn Renfrom showed up for class on Monday. They sent her home for violating the school's dress code.


It was meant as a gesture of solidarity: a girl in Grand Junction shaved her head to support her friend, who is battling cancer. However, family members say the girl's school didn't see it that way and said it violated the dress code policy. Now, what started as a simple gesture is turning into a battle over whether hair should matter in school.

For the two girls on the playground, though, Monday afternoon was all about sharing fun in the sun and sporting matching bald heads.

"It felt like the right thing to do," Kamryn Renfro said.

With her parents' permission, Kamryn shaved her head in support of her cancer-stricken friend, 11-year-old Delaney Clements. She lost her hair because she is undergoing chemotherapy in her fight against neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.

Delaney loved what her friend did.

"It made me feel very special and that I'm not alone," she said.

However, when Kamryn tried to go back to school at Caprock Academy in Grand Junction this week, she wasn't allowed in. Turns out, having a shaved head is a violation of the school's dress code policy. Delaney's mom, Wendy Campbell, couldn't believe it.

"I didn't realize that hair was such an important aspect of a child at school," Campbell said.

In a statement, Caprock Academy said its dress code policy is clear.

"Caprock Academy does have a detailed dress code policy, which was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school's students. Under this policy, shaved heads are not permitted," said Catherine Norton Breman, President and Chair of Caprock Academy Board of Directors.

Delaney and her mom are hoping the school will change its mind and make an exception.

Their hopes were fulfilled when the board voted on Tuesday night to make an exception:

The board of the charter school voted 3-1 Tuesday night to allow Kamryn back to school without wearing a wig. The members were making an exception to the rule based on “extraordinary circumstances.”

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports the board member who voted no said he was worried it would set a precedent for policy waivers.

Since this story started getting worldwide media attention the school had already changed its tune.

FOX31 Denver learned late Monday afternoon that officials planned to hold the executive session Tuesday to review the policy. In addition, Kamryn had already been invited back to school Tuesday.

“She got up, got ready, and held her head high as she walked into her classroom this morning,” Kamryn’s mom, Jamie Renfro wrote on her Facebook page. “To say her dad and I are proud, is a total understatement.”

We're all proud of little Kamryn. You cannot say the same about the school board and what this ridiculous policy represents.

A policy designed "to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school's students" is a straitjacket that stifles the individuality of kids while furthering the regimentation of children. Schools do not have a mandate to turn our young into Stepford Kids. Let them breathe. Pre-teen children are just discovering who they are and denying them the ability to explore their personhood - within reason - breeds nothing but automatons who march in conformist lockstep.

My goodness, even the Sisters of Mercy were less authoritarian about recognizing the indivuduality of children when I was in primary school than this bunch running the academy in Colorado. Caprock may be a charter school, but feeding the mind is only part of their mission. Nourishing the soul is at least as important and officials appear to be falling down in their responsibility in that area.