Eighteen-year-old Andrew Jones of Amite, La., was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Amite High School. But because of his beard, he wasn't allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony. Even though he had worn the beard throughout the school year and at other school activities, once he tried to enter the graduation ceremony, he was stopped at the gates. Jones' cap and gown were confiscated and he was only allowed to watch from the audience.
But on Friday, Jones finally got the graduation he deserved.
According to the Associated Press, 200 people showed up to the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond, La., to celebrate Jones' academic accomplishments. Attendees included Democratic state Rep. Katrina Jackson, of Monroe, La., and the Rev. Roosevelt Wright III, of New Orleans, who sponsored the ceremony.
The one person who probably wasn't in attendance was schools Superintendent Mark Kolwe, who stood by his decision to bar Jones from graduation.
“This policy was explained to the student in question on multiple occasions prior to graduation day, and the consequences for failing to comply with that policy were explained to him and his parents on multiple occasions on graduation day. The student’s parents tried to convince him to shave, but he ignored their request. … Andrew made that decision for himself by failing to comply with the reasonable requests made by his parents and school officials that he comply with the rules applicable to all other students,” Kolwe said in a previous statement.
Currently, there's a lawsuit pending against the school district, and Jones and his family declined to talk about the situation with AP.