A high school senior almost missed his own graduation after a school official said his shoes were not permitted at the ceremony.
Daverius Peters, a senior at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana, was elated to arrive at the convention center where his graduation was being held May 19 — until a school representative refused him entry.
“She just stopped me saying I couldn’t wear my shoes,” Peters said. “Another kid had the exact same shoes, so I was confused.”
The school’s graduation dress code policy states male students must wear dark dress shoes and tennis shoes are not allowed. Peters wore Alexander McQueen black leather sneakers with white rubber soles, along with a white dress shirt, tie and black pants, which were a part of the school policy.
“I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. And I was just shocked when it started because my shoes were black and dark-colored, so like why am I getting stopped,” Peters said.
And that’s when John Butler, a teacher at the school whose daughter was graduating that day, noticed Peters.
“There were only about five minutes left until the doors to graduation closed, and I was waiting outside for my wife to join us when Daverius comes to me in a panic and tells me they are not letting him walk the stage to receive his diploma and graduate,” Butler said.
Butler quickly went to the school official to discuss the issue but they were insistent that Peters was not allowed to walk the stage. Butler then decided he would give over his size 11 shoes to the high school senior.
“At first, he asked me what size I was,” Peters said. “I said a 9, and he gave me his shoes. I slipped on his shoes like slippers because of how big it was.”
Peters’ mom, dad, grandma and siblings quickly filtered in to take a seat and didn’t have a chance to pick up a program of the ceremony — and when Peters’ name was called, his mom said they weren’t sure if it was actually him.
“I’m like, ‘That is Daverius,’ and they were like, ‘No, that is not Daverius. That kid has on brown shoes,’” Jima Smith recalled.
And when she confronted her son, Peters revealed to her how Butler loaned him the shoes so he would not have problems getting his diploma. But it wasn’t until her son’s story went viral that his mom learned the whole story.
“When I turned to Mr. Butler, I called and contacted him and had a conversation with him asking him exactly what happened. … I was literally in tears because I did not know all of this took place and that my son had to experience it,” Smith said.
Smith said that while she understands students have to wear certain attire for graduation ceremonies, at the same time, the school should do a better job of addressing the dress code policy.
“The cap and gown are already costing us $138.50, and you don’t know people’s situation,” Smith said. “So you know, I had a big problem about that as well. Like how about a kid who can’t afford to wear these things that you’re requiring, and I think the school needs to put something in place, really look deep into exactly what’s going on.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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