A New Hampshire high school has refused to let a senior wear his U.S. Marine Corps uniform to graduation instead of the traditional gown.
Brandon Garabrant, 18, graduates from Marine Corps bootcamp Friday in South Carolina. Garabrant and his family will take a flight back to New Hampshire the very same night so that he can walk at his ConVal High School graduation on Saturday. The only way Garabrant can wear his Marine Corps uniform is under his gown.
“I guess it’s been a long-term policy that everyone has to wear the cap and gown,” his mother, Jessie Garabrant, told the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. “We were told he’d have to wear a cap and gown over the uniform. When I first heard that, I thought it was a disgrace to the uniform.”
Jessie Garabrant says principal Brian Pickering told her that the uniform would separate and single-out her son at the graduation ceremony, which he says is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the entire class.
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“Brandon earned this right,” his mother objected, “he went above and beyond what he needed to do in high school.”
ConVal high school allows colored honor stoles, cords, sashes and pins to be worn over gowns, which designate special achievement such as Magna Cum Laude and Honor Society membership.
“That’s certainly an option for Brandon,” Pickering said. “Every year, we have students who are accepted to colleges, are going into the military, have earned various types of certifications. The question is, where to you draw the line?”
Pickering said the issue was taken up with the student council, without Brandon being named. The result of that meeting was not made public, but Pickering compared Brandon wanting to wear his uniform to a star football player at Notre Dame wanting to wear a gold helmet to his last game.
Pickering says Garabrant can wear the uniform under his gown and remove the gown at the close of the ceremony if he wants to march out in uniform.
“Once they come off the stage, they can all celebrate their individual accomplishments,” he said.
“The distinction is that Brandon is completing boot camp during his high school years,” his mother said. He was able to get all his credits in early. I understand the concern about not wanting to make a big deal out of one person, but I’d love to see the policy changed.”
Garabrant became interested in a career in the military when he was junior.
“This is something he always dreamed of,” she said. “His birthday is on Veterans’ Day. He’s always been service oriented. He loves to help people and he’s always been very patriotic. It became very clear that his future was with the Marines. He enlisted on the day he met with the Marine recruiter. It was a no-brainer.”
Brandon’s sister Mykala, who also attends ConVal, started a petition to change the school’s policy on uniforms at graduation.