MARYSVILLE — When her son came home from school Friday, he appeared to be festooned in marijuana leaves.
That’s how it looked to mother of eight Becki Erickson, anyway.
The teen, a Marysville Pilchuck High School sophomore, wore two polyester green leis around his neck and wrapped two others around his wrist.
“I was appalled,” Erickson said. “He could tell by the look on my face.”
Where in the heck, she asked, did he get the necklaces?
At school, he replied.
Who, she wondered, gave them to him? She figured it was a classmate acting alone.
Her son’s response surprised her.
The leis were handed out to students at an assembly welcoming a freshman class of 296 students.
Erickson sought second opinions about the leaves from other adults, including maintenance workers at an apartment complex, as well as two teens. Each believed the leaves looked like they could have come from a marijuana plant, she said.
She didn’t like the idea that her son received them at a school-sanctioned event.
“I don’t want my son to think they are getting the OK,” she said.
District officials acknowledge that some people could conclude the greenery resembles marijuana leaves.
That was not the goal when student body leaders went through the process of getting the purchase order approved, said Emily Wicks, a Marysville School District spokeswoman. The school ordered about 300 necklaces, she said.
“They had good intentions. The intentions were to buy something tropical,” Wicks said. “I don’t think students were trying to pull one over” on the administration.
School officials have asked for and have been told they will get a refund, Wicks said.
The company, Oriental trading.com, is described online as a merchant of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, toys and novelties and school supplies. It lists the item as tropical fern leaf leis. In an online description, it wrote: “Add a touch of the tropics to your event with these unique greenery leis. You’ll love the fresh Hawaiian style and natural leafy look these leis create. Sure to work with any hula costume, use these faux fern leaf leis in your photo booth for the perfect props!”
Erickson believes the leis should not have been purchased in the first place, and shouldn’t have been handed out once they arrived.
That’s not how she felt last year when her son brought home a lei of pink flowers from a similar fall assembly.
He gave it to her and she hung it on the rear-view mirror of her Dodge Caravan for six months.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.