HS student & Marine barred from his own graduation, school’s excuse leaves many outraged

Indiana student Jacob Dalton Stanley had plenty to be proud of after what he had accomplished at such a young age.

After completing his high school requirements many months early, he promptly enlisted in the Marines.

Before his high school graduation ceremony, Jacob wrapped up from boot camp and jumped on a plane, arriving home in time to join his high school graduation.

But, things didn’t go as planned.

Indiana high school student Jacob Dalton Stanley graduated in December from Crown Point High School.

He completed Marine boot camp days before, and flew home to attend his senior class’ graduation ceremony.

Jacob arrived in his full dress blue Marine Corps uniform.

Jacob Dalton Stanley (Facebook)

But that wasn’t okay, according to the school.

Jacob was denied the opportunity to walk the graduation stage with his classmates – because he wasn’t wearing the required standard cap and gown.

He was forbidden from walking the stage to get his diploma while wearing his Marine uniform.

However, Stanley had been warned.

During practice the same day, Principal Chip Pettit reportedly told Jacob that he was not allowed to wear his uniform at the weekend graduation.

Jacob decided to wear his dress blues anyway.

He obviously chose to ignore the directive as he showed up for graduation in his Marine Corps uniform anyway.

But to his shock, the principal stayed true to his warning and the graduate was turned away.

Crown Point High School (Google Maps)

Jacob declined to comment on the snub (nearby Hobart High School allows military dress uniforms), but family and friends called the decision a “disgrace.”

Local residents and students have criticized the school’s decision and accused administrators of disrespecting members of the military, according to NBC Chicago

Although the principal and the school have received immense backlash over their decision, they say it’s a long-standing school policy that was made clear to Jacob.

Principal Chip Pettit says he understands that Jacob, his family and many others are upset. He also said the school typically doesn’t have a problem enforcing the graduation dress code.

“This practice has served us well as it has allowed the class to show unity by dressing the same, but also allowing for individual accomplishments to be recognized by wearing stoles and chords,” Pettit explained.


“This tradition is not intended to be disrespectful to students, parents, or our community, but as a source of pride for our students,” he furthered.

“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,” Pettit continued.

“We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for our freedom.”

Still, some students, as well as many others hearing the news, are furious with the school’s decision, calling it “ridiculous,” according to Daily Mail.

Making things worse, Jacob was not only forbidden from participating in the ceremony, his name wasn’t called out in recognition of his achievement.

Jacob Dalton Stanley
Jacob Dalton Stanley (Facebook)

“He’s in the military putting his life on the line for us. It’s unacceptable that he was not allowed to walk across the stage. If he wants to walk across the stage in his uniform that he worked so hard for and earned, he should have the right to do that,” Leann Tustison, a fellow Crown Point graduate, said.

“That’s his achievement. They honored other people’s achievements whether they were in triathlon or other activities.”

Even though I think that’s a far point, it should also be noted again that Jacob was made aware of the rules beforehand and decided to break them. It was his decision.

But if you don’t like the rules, isn’t it much more conducive to try to get them changed rather than just break them?

As a member of the US Military, Jacob should know the importance of rules and lead by example by respecting them.

After all, Marines who show similar behavior while serving their country could face far more severe consequences.

But with that said, why does the school have such a rule anyway?

Because meanwhile, an early graduate and Marine from the nearby Hobart High School was encouraged to wear her uniform for graduation.

Hobart High Schools superintendent Peggy Buffington told the Times of Northwest Indiana:

“This year was especially nice, because Ana Kritikos graduated midterm and landed just in time for the graduation ceremony.”

Hobart High School
Hobart High School (Google Maps)

When Ana Kritikos returned for her graduation, she received the full support of high school administrators when she expressed her desire to wear her uniform.

“They have been absolutely amazing. It is OK with the Marines for us to wear our uniforms at high school graduation,” Kritikos said.

“I know the School Board, the principal, and superintendent talked about it and were in agreement that I could wear my Marine uniform.”

Ana Kritikos (Kritikos Family)

Maybe Principal Pettit and Crown Point could chosen to do the same?

Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington said that the school want to recognize graduates who join the military.

“We recognize audience members and future military in our graduates by having them stand. It is always a very special and patriotic moment where the audience roars with applause,” Buffington said.

“We did recognize her and the achievements she has made in the Marines, already,” Buffington continued. “She is a Private 1st Class Military Occupation Specialist. She is currently serving in Virginia in their specialist class involved with intelligence and started her training in January. We are extremely proud of her accomplishments.”

Ana Kritikos (middle) (Kritikos Family)

The Marines do not have a policy on dress for high school graduations, leaving the decision up to the individual school districts.

According to a US Marine Corps spokesman, the military doesn’t want to get involved.

“The Marine Corps does not dictate what specific high schoolers can or cannot graduate in,” Marine Corps Major Clark Carpenter explained.

“That decision is up to school leadership.”

Ana Kritikos (Kritikos Family)

Although nothing can change what’s already been done, maybe others who wish to serve before graduation can learn from Jacob Dalton Stanley’s ordeal.

Just because you are a Marine, it does not give you the right to break the rules. 

Ensure you know the school rules, and if you don’t like them, try to make a push to change them before you are denied the right to participate in such a monumental event while also having your service achievement recognized.

At the same time, is there any good reason to deny a student the right to wear their military uniform for graduation?

One would think it would be encouraged since it sets a good example for the service member’s peers.

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