An Arizona high school senior, who was elected as student body president while recovering from leukemia, was reportedly denied the opportunity to participate in the graduation ceremony with his class.
Stephen Dwyer underwent a bone marrow transplant as part of his treatment for leukemia during his junior year at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona, KPNX reports. Although he completed three online courses, added an extra course, and is part of the National Honor Society, he is 2.5 credits short and was not allowed to walk with his graduating class on May 26.
"Parents are tearful and students are angry about what’s happening," Jacob Martinez, Stephen’s friend, told KPNX. "It’s not a good situation. It’s one of the biggest days in a student’s life and to have it taken from him is awful."
As Stephen was student body president, he was allowed to lead his class onto the field during the ceremony. However, he was not allowed to don the cap and gown and was forced to leave the field and sit in the stands.
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"[Students in situations like mine] miss out on so much and have no choice but to sit at home and observe on social media," Stephen wrote on the Facebook page Dwyer Strong. " ... I lost a lot of high school memories already and now I’m losing the final one."
Mesa Public Schools stated that no students are allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony before fully completing their studies, although they are permitted to participate in other senior year activities, KPNX reports.
"I never asked to receive a diploma and am even okay with not walking across that stage or having my name called," Stephen explained in his Facebook post. "I just want to be a part of the ceremony as one of my peers would be. I want to sit on the field in cap and gown, walk in the same line and throw my cap in the air as we all celebrate what we have accomplished."
Although Stephen received a lot of support from his local community, school officials did not budge on their decision.
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"I understand the concern of setting a certain precedent for kids who failed to meet the graduation requirements, but I believe people like me have a special circumstance and don’t deserve to feel like they are being punished," Stephen added.
Stephen is set to graduate in December, KPNX notes.