Rocky once wore an American flag like a cape, but be careful pulling that move at a high school graduation.
Take, for example, an incident in North Carolina Thursday.
Graduating senior Ever Lopez took to the stage in unusual attire.
Ready to receive his diploma, he was draped with the flag of Mexico.
As told to ABC news, Ever ended up in shock:
“When I got up there, I went for the handshake, and I wasn’t thinking nothing of it, and I heard [Principal Penny Crooks] say, ‘You can’t wear that.’ And I was in shock and confused. I was like, ‘What?’ She was like, ‘The flag. You can’t wear that.'”
Ever Lopez was set to become the first member of his immediate family to graduate from high school, but instead, he said, he was denied his diploma because he wore a Mexican flag over his gown at his graduation ceremony. https://t.co/9huGA4pAAx
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 6, 2021
The school has a policy which was shared with students ahead of time, per an Asheboro City Schools press release:
[T]he wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code.
No matter — in Ever’s mind, he was representing his country:
“It means everything to me. My parents, my whole family, is from over there. I did it for them because they had a rough childhood; they didn’t get the scholarship that I got, or they didn’t get to go to school like I did. So…representing my flag and getting a diploma was really important to me because I was basically doing it for my family.”
Asheboro High wasn’t impressed.
According to the Asheboro Police Department, off-duty officers were asked by Principal Penny to escort the family off of the property.
Ever wasn’t given his diploma, and the school put a price on it: an apology.
But the teen didn’t think he owed one:
“I don’t know why I should apologize, when it should be heard, because I did nothing wrong.”
The situation caused quite a stink.
On Friday, roughly 30 people rallied outside the school.
As of Saturday, an online petition had garnered over 73,000 signatures.
By Monday, it had crossed the hundred-thousand mark.
Plus, as reported by ABC:
The superintendent said an employee received a threatening email on Friday that said “I’m gonna shoot up this school if you don’t give that young man his diploma,” according to the Asheboro Police Department.
“The Asheboro Police Department is investigating 9 additional emails, for a total of 10, that have been sent to school employees via email threatening violence against the school and/or the employee,” the department said in a statement.
On Monday, things got ironed out.
Ever told the press:
“I’m feeling so grateful now that I got what I deserved. It really means a lot.”
In his words, he held “his head high.”
“I knew that I was going to go in there and fight hard for it, and at the end, we came out with it.”
So did the school get an apology?
It doesn’t sound like it.
From the New York Post:
Lopez said he had no regrets about donning the flag and thanked the community for supporting him. He said he asked for an “explanation” Monday from Crooks as to why it happened, while denouncing…threats of violence in the aftermath of the denial.
“She said she was going to re-evaluate [the policy],” he relayed. “And hopefully, it does change, and we’re allowed to wear whatever we want.”
Progressively, dress codes are certainly going the way of the dodo bird.
But some sticklers are still giving it a shot:
Regardless of Ever’s flagrant flag flaunting, of course, he’d already earned his diploma. Receiving the piece of paper was a formality.
And mom Margarita Lopez wants answers.
“Because it wasn’t just my son [the principal] offended,” she said.
She also made clear the family isn’t “in agreement with any violence.”
A school district spokesperson celebrated the young man:
“As with all graduates, we wish him well and we will continue to serve our community in ways that help all young people meet their full potential.”
One thing’s for sure: At schools and even businesses, rules and policies don’t have the same weight they once did.
The young are in charge. The employees are the boss.
As they say in the movies, the students have become the teachers.
Will society one day go back to its old, oppressive ways?
I doubt it will any time soon.
And maybe not…”Ever.”
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