Patriotic Shirts Not Appropriate For School "Patriotic Day," Sept. 11, Students Kelton Stewart, Clay Earnest Told By Principal

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High schools can be regimented institutions as teacher, administrators and parents worry constantly about keeping teenagers on the same straight and narrow oaths that they of course followed in high school.

But sometimes the regulations can be a little bit difficult for kids to decipher.

That was the case yesterday for Kelton Stewart and Clay Earnest (pictured), two students at H. W. Byers High School in Slayden, Miss., who were called into the office for wearing what they thought were patriotic shirts on “Patriotic Day.”

That’s how the school had labeled its commemoration of September 11. The school which normally has a school uniform policy, loosened the dress code for the day. Students were told that they could wear white shirts with an image of the American flag.

Stewart, however, wore a gray T-shirt with the word “America” prominently displayed across the chest and the colors red, white and blue printed on the shirt. He was called into the principal’s office and told the shirt was unacceptable, leaving the student puzzled.

“If you’re going to wear something to do with your country and the colors are red, white and blue, then why are you being told you can’t wear the red, white and blue when you come to school?” he wondered, in a report on TV station WREG.

Earnest wore a white shirt with what he said were the words “U.S. Pride” on the back, albeit in a semi-legible, squiggly font.

Other students complained, believing that the graffiti-like script was some kind of gang writing.

“They just jumped straight to the conclusion that you’re in a gang,” said an irritated Earnest. “That you’re trying to be part of gang or something like that when you know that you’re against those kinds of things.”

School principal Dante Thornton said that the boys were not disciplined or suspended, simply told to call their parents who could bring them more acceptable shirts.

SOURCES: WREG TV, WOAI Radio, Washington Times