High school tells more than 50 seniors they cannot graduate at the last minute, students say
NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN/Gray News) – Dozens of seniors at a North Carolina high school are angry because they were told they cannot graduate just days before their commencement ceremony.
More than 50 seniors at New Bern High School will not be walking during their graduation ceremony due to a failed course.
Members of the class of 2023 said the school system delivered the news Monday, just a few days ahead of Friday’s scheduled graduation ceremony, leaving students with few options.
Students like Elijah Tripp said they will be able to make up their failed courses by taking a 72-hour summer school course, but that they should be allowed to walk with the rest of their class this weekend.
“Honestly, they could still put us in the classes now,” Tripp said. “Them refusing to do that just lets us know how much they really don’t care.”
However, the school sees it differently.
Craven County Public Relations Director Jennifer Wagner sent WITN a statement regarding New Bern High School’s graduation requirements that reads, in part, “We also offer many options to help students earn credit over the summer and receive their diploma once all necessary requirements are fulfilled.”
Students and parents came together in frustration outside the Craven County Board of Education on Monday night after receiving the news.
Community members like Denise Magwood think there may be more to the story, believing the decision has something to do with the recent suspension of the school’s principal and counselor.
Just last week, New Bern High School Principal Jerry Simmons and New Bern High School Counselor Heidi Ricks were both suspended with pay.
The district did not share further details about the suspension due to the confidential nature of personnel information.
Students said their principal played an essential role in advocating for the students and getting them to walk across the stage.
“We want Principal Simmons and Heidi Ricks at graduation, that’s what we want,” Magwood said.
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