Friday, March 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Kicked out of school for being pregnant, she gets diploma 50 years later

By
From page C7 | August 24, 2014 |

SEATTLE — Sandra Lantz was about four months away from graduation when high school in Bothell, Wash., when the shool’s principal and vice principal took her aside.

Despite her good grades, a promising intellect and extracurricular zeal, they wanted her six-months-pregnant belly out of sight immediately. It was Feb. 4, 1963. A high-school diploma was out of the question.

“I asked them if I could at least stay until Feb. 14, my birthday and Valentine’s Day, and they said absolutely not,” said Sandra. “They treated me like I had a disease, and they didn’t want anyone else to catch it.”

Ashamed, the 17-year-old crept out the back door after disenrolling with a counselor and walked five miles home by herself, her future uncertain.

With the support of her friends and family, however, Sandra accomplished more than those two administrators ever thought she would.

She went to Seattle’s Edison Technical School that fall to get the two credits she still needed for a high-school diploma, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University. She also earned two master’s degrees, and became a clinical social worker, author and an editor for Pacific Northwest literary journal Cirque.

She lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with a husband who made her Sandra Kleven at 22, and raised her firstborn, Michael, as his own. Together, they had three more children.

Still, it had always bothered Lynda Humphrey, an old friend and Class of ‘63 classmate, that Sandra was exiled from high school so abruptly. Humphrey wanted to do something.

Initially, she wanted Sandra’s perseverance and achievements celebrated by getting her name on the School District’s Wall of Honor at a local stadium in Bothell. But there was one thing Sandra needed to be eligible, though, and she didn’t have it.

“She said, “Remember, Lynda, I never got a diploma from Bothell High,’ ” Humphrey recalled. “And I just felt this clunk in my stomach.”

Although Sandra had always been welcomed to class reunions, she technically wasn’t a member of the close-knit BHS Class of ’63.

That set Humphrey on a mission: giving her friend a real Bothell High School diploma with the graduation ceremony she should have had more than a half-century ago.

On a recent Saturday, Humphrey’s work was done, as she watched School District Superintendent Larry Francois hand Sandra a legal, not honorary, Class of ’63 diploma.

“She found all these people were quite excited to do it,” Sandra said of her friend. “It was tremendous to see this groundswell of support.”

But first, Humphrey had to find transcripts, have lawyers and education leaders review the diploma request, ask the school district to research what the 1963 graduation requirements were, and organize a ceremony for their 51st reunion.

She never wanted Sandra to come to another reunion feeling she wasn’t an official part of the Class of ’63 family.

For the most part, pregnant girls in school today can find a lot more support than Sandra did. Years later and hundreds of miles away from Bothell in Alaska, the contrast between past and present brings her to tears at times.

“I was in an alternative school in Wasilla, (Alaska), and they on-site day care, a parade of the students’ children in their Halloween gear and – I’m not that emotional usually – but I just sat there blinking back tears,” said Sandra, who’s passionate about making sure teens have the support they need to finish high school no matter what. “In my day, the impulse of schools was to do the opposite of that.”

Fortunately, Sandra had open-minded family, friends and college professors who helped her succeed. But the judgment and rejection of the administrators still cut deep.

BHS counselors did something similar for her eventual husband, Richard Kleven, who also left the school without a diploma.

Because they couldn’t see him doing much else in life, counselors recommended the Army. Discouraged, he dropped out and enlisted at age 17.

“When school administrators tell you, ‘You are less than others,’ you don’t get over that quickly,” Sandra said recently while visiting Humphrey’s home. “It had been impressed upon me that a high-school diploma was essential, so I was wounded when they took that away from me.”

Humphrey said she remembered that when she was principal of an elementary school in Alderwood Manor, Wash.

“What you’re told at school has a huge influence on you, second only to what your parents might say,” Humphrey said.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are still plenty of school leaders nationwide who inadvertently, if not overtly, encourage pregnant teens to drop out. In 2011, the ACLU noted the problem at some Seattle-area schools, but did not list which ones it said needed changes in their approach.

ACLU of Washington State spokesman Doug Honig said discrimination against pregnant teens often happens when schools aren’t flexible enough for them, or when administrators or teachers say discouraging things about the future of their education.

“There can be a lack of accommodation for doctor’s appointments, opportunities to make up school work, things that have the effect of driving the kid out of school,” Honig said.

Honig says pregnant students, under Title IX, have the right to stay in their original classes or school, participate in any extracurricular activity they choose, and have pregnancy-related absences excused.

Francois, the current superintendent, says his district has several options for pregnant students that include staying in the same school, using independent study or going to the district’s alternative school, Secondary Academy for Success (SAS), where class sizes are smaller and interaction with teachers and counselors is closer and more frequent.

“Today, I think it would be a process of sitting down with students, and hopefully their family, to make sure she would get her diploma,” Francois said. “The drive for us would be making sure we found solutions to help her finish high school.”

For Sandra, spending the end of last week at her mother’s house waking up in the same bedroom she did in high school felt surreal.

It’s where her teenage self worried about getting her hair right, studied competitively to earn better grades than her friends, and made plans for after graduation.

“Here I am wondering what I’m going to wear to my high-school graduation more than 50 years after I thought I’d be doing it,” Sandra said.

Saturday was the big day, and her 51-year-old son, Michael Kleven, her husband, her mother and about 50 other BHS classmates gathered in Bothell for it. Her son, a Seattle-area sound mixer and videographer, had his camera ready.

“I’m really proud of her. She’s made some courageous choices,” he said.

Humphrey left no graduation detail lacking: She made sure Sandra’s cap and gown were white, just like the girls’ gowns were in ’63, and readied “Pomp and Circumstance” on her iPad. She reminded Sandra which direction the blue tassel is turned.

And then she introduced Sandra to a room of friends on their feet, clapping. Francois handed Sandra the long-delayed Bothell High School Class of ’63 diploma to more applause.

As the room quieted, a microphone made it into Sandra’s hands as well.

“I only thought one sentence into what I could say here — and I knew I would stammer through it,” Sandra said. “And that one sentence is, ‘ow I belong.’”

The Seattle Times

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Brasher new president, CEO of Jelly Belly

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Rio Vista singer ready for Rancho Cordova show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Everyday life inspires model’s music

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Hosting gig for comic, birthday party on weekend schedule

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
 
Kids fishing day events return

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Spring Fling set to return to Rancho Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Lawyers dispute hoax claim, boyfriend says he was drugged

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Co-pilot believed to have purposefully crashed plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
L.A. river revamp to cost double previous projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Governor awaits $1B drought relief bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US drops graphic leaflet to possible Islamic State recruits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
AP Exclusive: Special ops troops using flawed intel software

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to alter ban on where sex offenders can live

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Teen says mom killed her siblings found in freezer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
House OKs bipartisan Medicare doctor bill; fate up to Senate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Talent agency wants Matt McConaughey speaking fee secret

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Grateful Oklahomans salvage belongings after killer storm

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fact Check: Myths in the political roar over Common Core

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US: Chicago-area cousins planned US terrorist attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Turmoil in Yemen escalates as Saudi Arabia bombs rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Russian, American ready for a year in space

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Tunisians assure Star Wars sets safe from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US Thunderbolt II attack planes on training in Poland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Syrian government shells kill 18 in south, activists say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Parents may be enabling son’s drinking and hurting his employment chances

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview March 27 to April 3, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
With ‘Downton Abbey’s coming demise, here are 5 past deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ken Burns unravels the mysteries of cancer in PBS film

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Downton Abbey’ to end after upcoming 6th season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Animated alien adventure ‘Home’ lands with a thud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Entertainment Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Prep swimming preview: City teams look to make big splash

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Marleau, Niemi lead Sharks past Red Wings 6-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Warriors can match franchise record for wins at Memphis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fiancee of Aaron Hernandez to be called to testify Friday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Stanford’s VanDerveer, Notre Dame’s McGraw to face off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Signups for Friday, March 27, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

Former Germany coach Berti Vogts joins Klinsmann’s US staff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Officials OK demolishing Irwindale Speedway for outlet mall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sharks sign 2 college players

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Top-seeded Wisconsin hangs to beat North Carolina 79-72

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

49ers waive OL Jonathan Martin after 1 season with team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Notre Dame races by Wichita State 81-70 for Elite Eight spot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kentucky overwhelms West Virginia 78-39 in NCAA Sweet 16

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
San Diego city, county join forces on bid to keep NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Labor, developers reach deal on proposed Inglewood stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Italians will pull out of America’s Cup if boats downsized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Mirim Lee leads LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Charley Hoffman takes PGA lead in wind-swept Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Range Rover offers an exclusivity that’s rich with irony

By The Washington Post | From Page: C1

 
Oil prices jump almost 5 percent as tensions mount in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Google’s new CFO gets $70M for defecting from Morgan Stanley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Bankruptcy hearing could decide fate of RadioShack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Microsoft wants US suppliers to give employees paid time off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Lawmakers unhappy with new fracking rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Authorities go after crooked car deals in national crackdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9