Illinois School’s Decision to Stop Marine in Dress Blues From Walking in Graduation Sparks Controversy

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A decision by a high school in Illinois to stop a U.S. Marine from walking with her class during their graduation ceremony last week has caused some controversy.

Megan Howerton, who technically finished high school months ago so she could enlist as a Marine, showed up to McHenry West High School’s graduation ceremony Thursday in her dress blues instead of a traditional cap and gown, local television station WLS reported.

Based on graduation dress code rules, school officials decided Howerton would not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. “ … the tradition of cap and gown regalia is aimed at the idea that our graduates are celebrated as a whole and in traditional attire,” part of a statement issued by the school read.

Some students backed up the school’s decision to keep Howerton out of the event.

“Rules are rules, but just because she’s in the military doesn’t mean you can break them. The Marines stand for rules and order, so she should follow those rules and order since she’s fighting for them,” Cole Petty, a junior at the school, told WLS.

Others felt the decision was not fair and Howerton should have been allowed to walk with her class.

“They start the morning off by pledging allegiance, and when a student actually does pledge allegiance to her country wearing her dress blues she was just shot down,” Nellie Weiss, a former student, told the television station.

Several students even walked out of class and staged a sidewalk demonstration in support of Howerton, WLS reported.