Tiny Forms of Expression Through Pins

Showcasing diversity between students


Since the addition of lanyards in school dress code, more students have taken advantage of expressing their interests, organizations or identities.

Ashley Harris, News and Features Editor

It’s not unusual to observe lanyards covered in colorful and unique pins. These small purposeful details added to the generic colored lanyard can showcase shared interests between students, bringing the community together by starting conversations or friendships.

“I wear my pins because I feel like my interests really express who I am, and it’s a big part of me,” sophomore Hannah Nang said. “I want to be able to let people know what my interests are. It’s actually how I became close friends with someone because they saw one of my Genshin Impact and anime pins, and we just found out we had a lot of the same interests. I’m a very shy person, so I’m thankful that we became friends because of that.”

In an environment where educators occupy a mentoring role over students, there is a sense of intimidation within this dynamic. For some, expressing interests makes teachers seem relatable, therefore more approachable. 

“It’s an easy way to say something without it being too much in your face,” English teacher Laura Penrod said. “With shirts or sweatshirts, it’s more visible, but people really have to pay attention to your pins. There’s definitely a connection [to students], and my pins will start a conversation. Sometimes as a student, it might be intimidating to talk to an adult, but when you see a common interest, it doesn’t seem like we’re so far apart.”


Others simply collect pins from places they’ve visited, or things that remind them of something  dear. Pins help to retain memories. 

“I like wearing pins because they remind me of my friends,” senior Jacob Gallardo said. “It started with getting different pins that were specific to certain people in my life. One pin I have reminds me of my friend’s profile picture, and another is another friend’s favorite animal. It’s a nice happy feeling whenever I look at my lanyard and it reminds me of the good memories.” 

Out of thousands of designs for enamel pins, many are created, manufactured and sold by small businesses or creators. 

“I went to a boba shop one time for a BTS event where small businesses were selling their products,” senior Jasmine Thai said. “It’s important to support small businesses and designers since they put a lot of work into their passions. The pin is one of my favorites that I have, and it’s much prettier than what some bigger companies have produced.”

For some, pins are an opportunity to subtly show their pride for their sexuality, gender affiliation or other form of identity. Additionally, students may display a religious belief, political ideology or movement to bring awareness to issues that hold significance to them. 

“We live in a country that allows free expression, and anyone who knows about journalism will understand that there is not free press across the world,” Penrod said. “When you have the opportunity to express your ideals, interests or values, do it. By all means everybody should be allowed to wear what they want, as long as it’s not offensive or harmful to another group of people.”

Leaders within an organization, club, or sports team often receive pins that display their titles, and are often a reminder of the wearer’s accomplishments. 

Teach Plus has been such a large part of my advocacy and leadership journey as a teacher that wearing this pin makes me feel very proud of my progress,” Penrod said. “I’m able to celebrate what I’ve become because it’s so powerful. That pin is a reminder that I walked into that space thinking that I knew nothing, but I now lead in that space. It doesn’t really mean anything to anyone else when they see Teach Plus, but that space has allowed me to become an educator that I didn’t know I could be.”