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Valedictorian barred from graduation to get own ceremony

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AMITE - After Amite High School’s valedictorian was denied the right to walk across the stage because of his facial hair, some state leaders have come together to give the young man a graduation of his own.

Andrew Jones had a 4.0 GPA and was top of his class at Amite High, however teachers wouldn’t let him walk at the 2016 spring graduation ceremony because administrators said his facial hair violated school policy.

A statement from state leaders including Rep. Katrina Jackson says Jones was unfairly excluded from a ceremony that should have been a highlight of his young adult life. People who support Jones say a beard shouldn’t detract from what was an exemplary academic performance from the young man.

"They were just straight… you either got to shave or you ain't going to graduate," Jones said at the time.

Teachers blocked Jones at the doorway of the ceremony and told him that he could not enter the graduation. He was forced to sit in the crowd with his family as his peers walked across the stage. School administration said Jones was warned on three prior occasions concerning his facial hair.

In the days after the incident, Jones said he was ready to move on and work on his transcript while looking to the future. However, the move to provide a personalized graduation experience will allow him a moment in the scholastic sun that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible without the involvement of supporters including Rep. Jackson.

“The Andrew Jones Graduation” will be held on June 17 at the African-American Heritage Museum, located at 1600 Phoenix Square in Hammond. The ceremony will be hosted by the Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson and Pastor Roosevelt Wright III, from New Orleans. More information about the event is available by calling 985-474-6840.


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