An Illinois high school sparked controversy after refusing to let a student walk at graduation wearing her military uniform instead of a cap and gown on May 19.
Students say McHenry High School West Campus claimed U.S. Marine Megan Howerton violated dress code by wearing her blues, sparking the social media hashtag #Letmeganwalk, WMAQ reports.
“REALLY? She is supporting our country! She graduated early, went to boot camp, and came back to graduate with her class, but Mr. Roberts, the Superintendant, said she couldn't because she had to wear a cap and gown, not her dress blues. It is disrepectful and this needs to change!” wrote Sara Tonyan on Facebook, ending the post with the hashtag #Letmeganwalk.
Others on Twitter also chimed in.
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“She can protect our country but you won’t let her walk in her blues #letmeganwalk,” wrote user Erika Vahst.
Meanwhile, the high school district called the uproar “unfortunate” in that it “draws attention away from the collective achievements of the Class of 2016."
"The district and administration in no way looked to prevent the participation of this graduate or any graduate who has chosen to serve our nation,” McHenry Community High School District 156 said. "Rather, the administration communicated in advance via letter, senior meeting, and practice, all the protocols expected of graduates, including attire.”
It added it allows active-duty students to wear their uniforms, as long as they’re wearing their gowns, which many did. The U.S. Marine Corps does not allow a Marine to wear a cap and gown over a uniform, notes WMAQ.
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“The tradition of cap and gown regalia is aimed at the idea that our graduates are celebrated as a whole and in similar attire,” the district added.
It also noted its long history of supporting various military branches, from recognizing enlistees graduating to also acknowledging veterans watching from the audience.
“In addition, the cooperation with recruiters year-round, a day-long, Veterans Day program in our schools each year, and a variety of community service partnerships with local veteran’s groups are priorities of the district,” it added.