Northwood senior briefly denied diploma for wearing Marine sash

NOW: Northwood senior briefly denied diploma for wearing Marine sash

NAPPANEE, Ind.-- A Northwood graduating senior was briefly denied his high school diploma for wearing a Marine Corps sash on the graduation stage.

An outraged sister, Natasha Menzie, posted the offense to her brother, Wesley, on Facebook, riling up the Nappanee community.

“He didn’t have his moment,” Natasha said.

Wesley’s family said it tarnished his graduation night.

“This should never happen to anybody that goes to the military,” Josh Menzie, Wesley’s dad, said.

Wesley, who plans to go into the Marine Corps and was sworn in last November, explained what happened. He said when he first asked for permission to wear the sash, it was granted.

“Our recruiter wants everybody to wear it for graduation. It’s about who you represent and what you’re going to do with your future,” he said. “The night of graduation, I think it was like two or three minutes before we went on stage, I was told I couldn’t wear it.”

Wesley took the sash in his pocket, heard his name is called at graduation, and shook his principal’s hand.

That’s when he asked principal, Weston Lambert, if he could put the sash on for his photo, and Lambert agreed.

But then, Wesley said he went to the band room at Northwood High School to pick up his diploma, when a teacher pulled him aside.

“I was pulled to the hall, I was told to come with him, and he’s like, my actions have consequences and that I have to come Monday, talk to Mr. Lambert to get my diploma back,” he said.

Wesley joined his family after the ceremony—without his diploma.

“He had to walk out with shame,” Natasha said. “’I don’t have my diploma.’ Everyone’s like, ‘what?’”

“I don’t know if they have something against the military, I don’t know, or Wesley,” Josh said.

“No one should feel that way, especially if you’re going to lay down your life for those people. For everyone in this country. And they’re going to treat you like that? It should be an honor,” Natasha said.

On graduation night, Principal Lambert tried to make things right. When he found out Wesley was going home without his diploma, he called Wesley’s parents and delivered to them.

Now, the Menzies want to ensure something similar never happens to another student.

“Everyone further on in the military should be able to wear their sash with honor and it should never happen again,” Natasha said. “And I want to attend future graduations and see if that happens. Like, I want to make sure that happens. It should change.”

The Menzies said they want an in-person apology from the school, and maybe disciplinary action for the teacher that berated Wesley.

Wa-Nee Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. Scot Croner, sent ABC57 the following statement:

"We learned shortly after the commencement ended that Wesley was denied his diploma because he wore his Marine sash. Upon learning this information, our high school principal, Mr. Weston Lambert retrieved and delivered Wesley his diploma. On behalf of our school system, I apologize to Wesley and his family for the confusion. We are extremely grateful for their sacrifice and his future service."

Wesley leaves for bootcamp Aug. 12.

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