||| Megan Pohlmeier |||
A high school student in Nebraska was given an ultimatum by the school's principal; either she could remove her Army sash, or she would not be given a diploma. The controversial decision has led to the school being highly criticized and called unpatriotic. Megan Pohlmeier was planning to graduate in May and to celebrate the occasion she wanted to wear her Army sash which she was given by her recruiter at the Grand Island Office in Nebraska.
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Pohlmeier decided to call the school and ask if she could wear the black and yellow sash during the graduation ceremony. "It was something I worked really hard to earn. They told me ‘no’ and did not really give me a reason," she said. When Pohlmeier's father called the school, he was told by Principal Thomas Szlanda that she could not wear the sash. Pohlmeier decided to wear the sash under her graduation gown so she could take photos in it after the ceremony.
Principal Szlanda spotted the sash peeking out from her gown and pulled her aside. "He pulled me out of line and said, ‘I talked to you and your father, and you are not to be wearing that. If I see you wearing that again, you will not receive your diploma," Pohlmeier explained. Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Craig Kautz said Pohlmeier should have been allowed to wear the sash tucked into her gown as long as it wasn't visible during the ceremony.
"But at the time, we were trying to get around 250 graduates lined up alphabetically and have the graduation start at exactly 2 p.m.," Kautz said. "At a certain point, I think, in all of the discussion that occurred, the principal was just saying, ‘Get the sash off and get in the graduation line or don’t go through the graduation ceremony."
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Kautz added, "She earned her diploma, so we are not going to deny her that. The only thing we would deny her is the ability to go through the graduation ceremony. Our graduation ceremony, as it states in our (student) handbook, is voluntary. It is not something that is mandated to get the diploma." People on social media were outraged by the situation and called the principals behavior "unacceptable" and "disrespectful." One woman pointed out that other students were allowed to wear school sashes, but Pohlmeier was not allowed to wear her Army sash.
A statement from the school said, "We are sorry (this) has generated the perception that we are not patriotic. This could not be further from the truth. Our mission, in part, is to develop responsible citizens. We can not think of a more responsible citizen than the ones who select to or are chosen to serve the United States of America."
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