Marine barred from his own graduation ceremony for wearing uniform

A young Indiana man who graduated from high school early and joined the Marine Corps was not allowed to take part in a graduation ceremony Tuesday because he was wearing his military dress uniform, not the cap and gown required by his school.

According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, local residents and students at Crown Point High School in Crown Point, Indiana, have criticized the school’s decision to forbid Private Jacob Dalton Stanley from graduating with his classmates. They have also condemned administrators for disrespecting a member of the military.

NBC Chicago reported that the principal defended the decision, contending that Stanley could have instead worn a military stole or cord over a gown and been recognized during the graduation ceremony.

“This (cap and gown) tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parents or our community, but as a source of pride for our students,” Principal Chip Pettit told NBC Chicago. “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.”

NBC Chicago and the Times interviewed students and parents who said the decision was “ridiculous” and left them “disgusted” and “embarrassed.”

“It’s unacceptable that he was not allowed to walk across the stage. If he wants to walk across the stage in his uniform that he worked so hard for and earned, he should have the right to do that. That’s his achievement. They honored other people’s achievements whether they were in triathlon or other activities,” one graduate told the Times.

The Times noted a sharp contrast, reporting that Hobart High School—located just one town away from Crown Point—allowed Marine Private Ana Kritikos to attend their June 1 graduation while wearing her dress uniform.

“It is okay with the Marines for us to wear our uniforms at high school graduation,” Kritikos told the Times. “I know the school board, the principal and superintendent talked about it and were in agreement that I could wear my Marine uniform.”

Stanley declined to comment on the controversy, instead issuing a statement issued through the Marine Corps.

“I don’t want the social media controversy that is drawing attention away from the Class of 2017,” Stanley said. “I also do not want to make any additional statements and wish to put this all behind me so I can start my career in the Marine Corps.”

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