A high school student was banned from his graduation ceremony for wearing his Marine Corps uniform to the event. Jacob Dalton Stanley, who completed his graduation requirements in December and had joined the Marines, arrived at Crown Point High School to receive his diploma with the rest of his classmates but was told he couldn’t participate because of his attire.
As reported by The Times of Northwest Indiana, Stanley had completed boot camp on Friday and had flown home over the weekend to participate in the ceremony, taking part in the rehearsals alongside his classmates in preparation for the graduation proceedings.
During the rehearsal, Chip Pettit, the school principal, informed Stanley that wearing his uniform during the graduation was not permitted.
Stanley chose to arrive for the graduation in his Marine dress uniform and, once school officials noticed his attire, he was turned away. His name was also not read during the portion of the ceremony dedicated to handing out the diplomas, though it was listed in the program.
Speaking regarding the decision, Pettit said in an emailed statement that all participating students were required to wear specific attire, including a traditional graduation cap and gown, for the ceremony. Students were recognized for specific achievements, including military service, through the use of stoles and cords placed over the gowns.
“The practice has served us well as it has allowed the class to show unity by dressing the same, but also allowing for individual accomplishments to be recognized by wearing stoles and chords,” said Pettit. “Last night, at our 135th graduation ceremony, students in all of the aforementioned groups wore their gowns, stoles and chords with great pride.”
Pettit went on to say, “We have continued wearing the traditional gown as this is the last formal event of the year and a celebration of the time our graduating seniors have spent at Crown Point High School,” continuing, “This tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parent, or our community, but as a source of pride for our students. It is also not intended to be disrespectful to our students choosing to serve in the military, our active duty servicemen and women and our veterans.”
He added, “We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for our freedom.”
While Stanley chose not to comment on the events, many of the other students felt that the situation was “absolutely ridiculous” and that it was “unacceptable that he was not allowed to walk across the stage” in a uniform “that he worked so hard for and earned.”
There is no direct reference to military uniforms at graduation in the school bylaws. The policy does state, “The Superintendent shall develop administrative guidelines to implement this policy which designates the principal as the arbiter of student dress and grooming in his/her building.”
A US Marine Corp spokesman stated the military does not involve itself in manners of high school graduation dress codes.