Graduation day. Theoretically, it's supposed to be a milestone moment in life. A memory to cherish. Personally, I found the experience of graduating from high school to be less about pomp and circumstance and more about the discomfort of sitting on a folding chair in a hot, sticky gymnasium wearing an itchy polyester gown and a matching cap that kept sliding off my head, but that's not really the point. The point is, everybody should have the opportunity to experience this rite of passage, whether it ends up being profound or profoundly lame, and South Carolina high school senior Haley Coker was robbed of said opportunity for a really, really stupid reason.
Apparently Coker "accidentally arrived too late to her graduation rehearsal because she was taking her younger sister to her own school event in place of her working mother" -- and her school has a strict policy against allowing seniors who miss graduation rehearsals to walk with their class during the ceremony.
That's an awfully harsh rule under any circumstances, in my opinion, though I guess it could be considered a reasonable punishment if the kid missed rehearsal because he or she happened to be doing bong-hits behind the bleachers or something. But taking care of her younger sister?! The saddest part is that Coker literally "begged" her principal to make an exception based on her very legitimate excuse:
“I begged her, I said please, please, please, please, please. She told me no. She told me to get off the stage because I was embarrassing myself.”
Now that's just crossing over into cruel and heartless territory. Especially taking into account the claims made in a statement released by the school regarding "legitimate" excuses for missing rehearsal:
“Students are required to participate in practices to 'walk' in graduation. Principals want seniors to participate and can and do make exceptions for special circumstances for legitimate reasons for missing a practice. For example, a student could call during rehearsal so his/her participation can be planned.”
And being a responsible big sister is NOT a legitimate reason?
This story gets even crazier, unfortunately. In a show of support, Coker's classmates posted her story and picture on Facebook with the words: “LIKE SO Haley Coker can walk at graduation today @ 2." The image went viral immediately, scoring over one million likes and more than 40,000 comments -- and STILL the school principal wouldn't budge!! Coker was forced to sit and watch her own graduation from the sidelines.
I can't imagine how furious I would be if I were Haley's mom! And she seems like such a sweet girl:
What is wrong with people?? Is this a case of common sense being trumped by mindless adherence to rules and regulations -- or plain old mean-spiritedness?
Do you think Haley Coker should have been allowed to walk with her graduating class?
Image via Fox/Carolina