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Please Don't Say It With Flowers

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The homecoming tradition of giving chrysanthemum corsages at A. N. McCallum High School in Austin, Tex., suffered a major setback recently when school officials revised the school's dress code to include a rule that students may wear only one corsage during school hours.

The mum exchange "just got out of hand," Penny Miller, associate principal at the high school, said last week.

The tradition started years ago with a few of the girls in the school, usually the cheerleaders, wearing a mum corsage on homecoming day. But in recent years, students began giving and receiving the corsages like "Christmas cards," Ms. Miller said.

The spectacle the practice created, as well as the cost of the corsages, caused concern among school offi-cials and parents and led to the new rule, Ms. Miller explained.

"We began to have some children wearing 8 to 10 mums across their bosoms and it looked ridiculous," Ms. Miller said.

Barbara Murchison, president of the high school parent-teacher group, agreed that wearing several giant mums on one's chest is "in very poor taste," but said that the cost of the mum exchange is what finally led the pta to ask school officials to put a halt to the tradition.

Most of the students purchased the corsages from local florists at a cost of anywhere from $3.50 to $60, depending on the size of the mum and the number of attached ribbons and trinkets.

Parents and school officials were also concerned about the students who were left out of the mum exchange. "It caused a lot of depression," Ms. Miller said.

Although on homecoming day last month most students conformed to the new rule, the school's seniors were "very, very upset" when they heard about it. "They feel like they are being picked on," Ms. Murchison said--they complain that first the state required minimum-competency tests for graduation, then it adopted attendance regulations that will prevent them from skipping school for their class trip, and now they can't wear mutiple mums.

"It was the straw that broke the camel's back," she said.

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