CROWN POINT — As community members debate the best course of action for school administrators to have taken when a student showed up to his Crown Point High School graduation Tuesday night in his Marine dress blues and was turned away, one Crown Point parent said her son, also in the military, chose to wear his cap and gown.
Crown Point parent Trish Batkiewicz said her son also was a graduate in the Crown Point High School Class of 2017 and also in the military, having attended Army basic training last summer between his junior and senior year in high school.
"My son proudly wore the standard red graduation cap and gown, along with a red, white and blue cord around his neck signifying military service and was announced as he walked across the stage with both his rank and name," she said.
"He received an overwhelming applause from the crowd. I have this proud moment captured on videotape and am amazed at his reception from the crowd. He was able to be recognized for his military service without needing to stand out. We had a very different experience at graduation than the other family. You can choose to follow the rules or not," Batkiewicz said.
Some students, parents and community members complained to The Times Wednesday when Crown Point grad Jacob Dalton Stanley, whose name was listed in the graduation program, was turned away when he went to the graduation ceremony Tuesday night at the Star Plaza Theatre in his Marine dress blues. School officials also did not read his name among the graduates.
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Crown Point High School Principal Chip Pettit responded to The Times by email Wednesday, saying the tradition at Crown Point High School has been for all students voluntarily participating in the graduation ceremony to wear a standard graduation cap and gown, and individual students are recognized for academic achievement, honor society membership and military service by wearing stoles or cords over their gowns.
Crown Point businessman John Moose said when he first read The Times story, he, too, was outraged. He said he is a big supporter of military vets.
"I don't want to see the military disrespected in any way, but after talking to a member of the school board, I better understand the rules and regulations they've set up," Moose said.
"I was told the students were notified months ago of what they were required to wear at graduation. I know the school supports the military because they've got a display case up with a section about students in the military. Unfortunately, I think his pride in his uniform got the best of him, and you can't fault the young man for that. God bless him. I wish him a prosperous and safe career in the Marines."