BOUTTE, La. — Years of hard work and dedication should culminate in that moment of walking across a graduation stage under the view of friends and family.
One teen’s attire almost kept him from living that moment, but a teacher came to his rescue at the last minute.
Daverius Peters arrived at his high school graduation ceremony on May 19, and was turned away because of his shoes.
A Hahnville High School representative would not let him in because he had, as she said, the wrong shoes, USA Today reported.
The school’s dress code stated that male students were to wear dark dress shoes. Athletic shoes were expressly forbidden.
Daverius had on black leather sneakers that had white soles.
“I thought I could wear them because they’re black,” he told The Washington Post.
He also wore the required white dress shirt, tie and dark dress pants.
“I was in shock. I felt humiliated. I just wanted to walk across the stage and get my diploma,” he told the Post.
“Another kid had the exact same shoes, so I was confused,” Daverius told USA Today.
He said he was panicking, since the ceremony was almost starting and he had no time to get to a store for shoes.
Then, he noticed a staff member who was at the convention center, not as a school employee but as a parent.
Daverius explained the situation to John Butler, the school’s paraeducator who mentors many students.
Butler spoke to the woman who prevented Daverius from going into the ceremony.
“But she insisted on not letting this young man in, and I didn’t have time to go back and forth with her,” Butler told the Post.
Butler then slid off his size 11 dress shoes and gave them to Daverius, who wears a 9, and the soon-to-be graduate slipped into the ceremony as the doors were closing.
Butler watched the ceremony wearing only socks on his feet. People sitting nearby noticed he was missing his shoes. The change in footwear also confused Daverius’ family.
Then Daverius’ brother noticed Butler.
“My other son said, ‘Look at that man with no shoes on,’ not knowing it was the man who gave his shoes to his baby brother so that he could walk across the stage,” Jima Smith told the paper.
After the ceremony, Daverius found Butler and returned the loafers.
“Something that small shouldn’t rob a kid from experiencing this major moment,” Butler told the Post.
He’s going to try to do something about it. Butler is planning to meet with school officials to have them review the graduation dress code.
The school is reviewing what happened.
“As with any policy that we have in place, any time an opportunity is presented to us to review and to make improvements, we absolutely will follow up on that,” Stevie Crovetto, the director of public information for the school, told the Post.
As for Daverius’ mother, she said the family was upset the school was going to prevent her son from walking across the stage, especially after spending this past year learning remotely due to chronic asthma.
“He worked so hard, and for someone to just rip that away from him, that was maddening to me,” Smith told the Post.
Smith also didn’t know all that had led up to Butler giving Daverius the shoes off his feet until their story went viral.
“When I turned to Mr. Butler, I called and contacted him, and had a conversation with him asking him exactly what happened. ... I was literally in tears because I did not know all of this took place and that my son had to experience it,” Smith told USA Today.
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