High School Refuses to Let Young US Marine Walk at Graduation Over Dress Code

May 22, 2016 Updated: May 22, 2016

An Illinois high school has refused to allow a graduate, who is also a U.S. Marine, walk across the stage in her uniform.

Marine Corps Pvt. Megan Howerton finished her studies at McHenry West High School early to start her career as a Marine, according to WLS-TV.

When she returned to join her classmates to graduate, she wasn’t allowed to walk with the class.

The reason: She chose to wear her uniform instead of the traditional cap and gown.

“Megan has always been very determined to do what’s right, and I think she felt that the military was a calling for her,” Grace Rodriguez, a McHenry West graduate, told WLS-TV.

The school explained its decision.

“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,” the school wrote in a statement to NBC Chicago.

“Rather, the administration communicated in advance via letter, senior meeting, and practice, all the protocols expected of graduates, including attire. In some past cases, active-duty students elected to wear their gowns over top of their military uniforms, with their military hats, which was allowed.”

“There was no communication to the administration that attire protocols would not be followed prior to the ceremony. The tradition of cap and gown regalia is aimed at the idea that our graduates are celebrated as a whole and in similar attire.”

Howerton issued a statement via the Corps that she was informed of the district policy.

“I do not want the controversy that is saturating social media, and I do not want to draw attention away from the class of 2016,” Howerton stated. “That being said, it was my choice not to participate in the graduation.”

Sgt. Trevon Peracca, marketing and public affairs representative for Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Chicago, noted the guidelines for graduation.

“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,” Peracca said, reported Fox News.