A newly minted Marine who wore his dress blues to his Indiana high school graduation Wednesday and was denied the opportunity to walk across the stage for his diploma says he just wants to put it all behind him.
PFC. Jacob Stanley, of Crown Point High School’s class of 2017, says he was informed of the school’s policy that all graduating students must wear their cap and gown to walk during the ceremony but wore his dress blues anyway.
“I don’t want the social media controversy that is drawing attention away from the Class of 2017,” Stanley said in a statement issued by the 9th Marine Corps District, Naval Station Great Lakes. “I also do not want to make any additional statements and wish to put this all behind me so I can start my career in the Marine Corps.”
Critics of the school vented their frustrations and what they perceived as a slight to the young service member on social media this week.
Principal Chip Pettit says the cap and gown tradition is customary and many students who enlist in the military or are involved in notable extracurricular activities are recognized by wearing stoles and chords.
“This tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parents, or our community, but as a source of pride for our students,” Pettit said. “It is also not intended to be disrespectful to our students choosing to serve in the military, our active duty servicemen and women, and our veterans.”
Sgt. Tyler Mitchell, a marketing and public affairs representatives for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Indianapolis, says the Marines are proud to have Stanley amongst their ranks and appreciate his pride in wearing the uniform.
“We also recognize that there are policies in place which outline graduation dress codes and the appropriate wear of Marine Corps uniforms when in public,” Mitchell said in a statement. “As high school graduations recognize the academic accomplishments of the class and the class's final chapter at that institution, the decision to allow individuals to wear uniforms during graduations is at the discretion of the school.”
At neighboring Hobart High School, a graduate marched in the school’s commencement services June 1 while donning her Marine uniform, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports.
Pettit maintains the firm stance on not allowing the uniformed Stanley to walk with his graduating class was simply a matter of policy and not a stance on military service.
“We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for our freedom,” he said.