April 18, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
57°F

Cloverleaf senior allowed to wear Army uniform for graduation

A riled-up crowd persuaded Cloverleaf school officials to allow a senior to wear her Army uniform at Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said senior Melissa Stevens approached school administrators about an hour earlier and said she would not participate unless she was permitted to wear her Army dress uniform instead of the traditional cap and gown.

Cloverleaf High School Principal Bart Randolph walks with senior Melissa Stevens, who was allowed to participate at graduation Sunday in her Army dress uniform after the audience began chanting, “Let her walk.” (PLATZ IMAGES PHOTO BY MATTHEW PLATZ)

Kubilus said no.

“It has been our procedure over many years that everybody would be attired in the cap and gown,” he said, “and the reasons for that is regardless of your family income, the neighborhood in which you live or the disadvantages that you may have encountered in life, graduation ceremony is the one time where everybody is equal, and the only thing that distinguishes peers is academic cords.”

But Kubilus reversed his decision after the crowed — led by Stevens’ father — took up a chant of “Let her walk.”

“There were 2,000 people who were listening to this and more and more people started joining in,” Kubilus said. “I felt it would be in the best interest of our district if she were permitted to walk, otherwise all the attention would be pulled from our graduating class as a whole and would focus solely on the controversy, so she was permitted to walk in her military attire.”

Stevens, who finished her schooling early, enlisted in the Army and has completed basic training.

Kubilus said the school board would review the district policy to allow a possible exception for students joining the military to wear their uniforms during graduation.

Kubilus said principals have received similar requests before, but usually well before the ceremony.

Jackie Stull, a Harrisville Township resident who attended the ceremony at Cloverleaf Recreation Center in Westfield Township, said she thought the school district could have handled the situation better.

“That’s something that the school should be proud of,” she said. “They need to recognize her. They recognized all the honor students.”

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

  • lookingallaroundme

    Look carefully at the words and actions of the Cloverleaf administrative team, particularly Daryl Q. Balless. Notice the lack of human emotion, and the inability to think beyond policy. I would also say that there is a noticeable lack of courage in this administrator. Quite simply he is afraid to challenge his board and the state board for what is needed to run a school. This is why we have huge class sizes in our elementary. It is easy to order a teacher to do the impossible just as it is easy to order a young woman out of the ceremony–until the chanting started. See the courage behind the decision then?nnFinally this quotation, “and the reasons for that is regardless of your family income, the neighborhood in which you live or the disadvantages that you may have encountered in life, graduation ceremony is the one time where everybody is equal,” Wow, does the super come close to actually speaking the truth here! Graduation may be the only time our students are treated without regard to their neighborhoods and family income. Thanks for the rare and unintended bit of honesty.

  • Mary

    What will the next one want to wear. This was graduation not military.

  • American

    Mary, you are an idiot. This was not a case of a student “wanting” to wear something different. She is obligated to wear her dress uniform to formal events as an enlisted soldier. The ignorance of the Cloverleaf school board is ridiculous, this shouldn’t have even been an issue. And any studentpast or in the future should not need to ask “permission” to wear their military dress uniform to graduation. Their rule of everyone wearing a cap and gown is intended to prevent students from singling themselves out for personal reasons. Wearing a military uniform is a matter of pride and honor, not a personal statement that needs to be quelled.nnIn the school boards infinite wisdom, to prevent drawing attention to Melissa, the complete opposite occurred. The reaction of the crowd is proof enough that their decision to not let her walk was the wrong one.nnCongratulations class of 2013, you are done with this school system, and so am I.

  • Duh

    Just to clear things up here, She did NOT say she wouldn’t participate if she couldn’t wear it. She said she could not COVER THE UNIFORM with a cap and gown because she would then be out of uniform. Anybody who has been in the military or that has close family that has been in the military knows that.

  • USAF Veteran

    That a very disappointing attitude from someone who is afforded their freedoms by those who wear the uniforms of our military services. We should be proud of and honor those who are willing to serve their country. Clearly she has pride in her service. Perhaps you should consider the sacrifice this individual has and will continue to make before making such a statement. It isn’t as if she asked to dress like a clown or otherwise inappropriately. While she could have approached the school official differently there shouldn’t have been a controversy to start with.

  • American

    She shouldn’t need to approach the school officials AT ALL. I’m pretty sure that the US Military trumps the Cloverleaf school board. They shouldn’t even have a voice in this debate. It should just be understood. Accepted. And honored.

  • USAF Veteran

    I certainly understand your emotion. That said, just like in the military there are protocols that should be followed. I don’t have firsthand knowledge of the situation beyond what is being reported but it would seem that things could have been handled differently on both sides. Clearly the school administration could have and should have handled it much better. My point is that perhaps if the student had approached the school earlier than the day of commencement this could have been resolved at that time.nnn I’m strong supporter of our military and a veteran but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the military trumps all else. We wouldn’t want that as a free society. My hope is that this incident results in all school districts adopting policies make wearing a military uniform for commencement a non-issue.

  • patriot

    Forgive me for my need to make a correction. An exception cannot be made for graduating students that are JOINING the military to wear a uniform because they do not HAVE a uniform if they are still in the process of joining the armed forces. It is few and far in between for a student to have already graduated from basic training/boot camp BEFORE graduating from High School.nnIn the case that a student has already gone through basic training when they graduate from high school they should ABSOLUTELY be allowed to wear their uniform at graduation. Them wearing that uniform is no different than an honor student wearing a tassel… in fact, that uniform IS THEIR TASSEL. The fact that this was ever an issue and the complete lack of patriotism from the school board and Mr. Kubilus absolutely disgusts me. nnThere is also OBVIOUSLY some conflict about whether or not Mr. Kubilus was completely honest with the press. It sounds to me like he made a rather stupid decision…. the public voiced that they believed he was wrong (by their near riot) and now he is retaliating. Shame on him for trying to go after a young woman that apparently has a lot of dedication to her country. People like her are the only reason that moron lives in a country where he can have a safe place to lay his head at night. I am curious to see how far this goes and how the rest of the public reacts. I have a feeling there is going to be complete public outrage. I wonder if he can save his job……

  • shocked and outraged!

    Daryl Kubilus is a LIAR…she never said she wouldn’t participate unless she could wear her uniform…the fact is she COULDN’T participate in the ceremony unless she wore her uniform…and not because the Army requires her to wear it…that’s not true and she never told them that either…another one of Mr. Kubilus’ lies…it was because it was ONE HOUR before the ceremony when they told her she couldn’t walk in her uniform…she had nothing to change into and she wasn’t allowed to wear a robe over her uniform…for him to make those comments to the Medina Gazette is disgusting and it just shows his complete lack of integrity…he was just mad because in his arrogant little mind he saw what happened as a personal defeat against his decision so he retaliated by spewing out lies…how pathetic…Mr. Kubilus if you’re reading this you should be ashamed of yourself!

  • Just facts

    One fact left out by daryl was that she also completed Chemical classes! Also to the person who said she could have addressed them about the uniform earlier. She just got home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1762437349 Melissa Merrill Snyder

    This is what gets me: “senior Melissa Stevens approached school administrators about an hour earlier”nnnWhy did she feel she had to wait until the 11th hour? Did she not think that it would need to be discussed and considered as it was outside of the traditions set by the school system? I think common courtesy would have been to alert the school that because she had completed basic training, she was compelled to wear her dress uniform at the event OR she simply wanted to. nnnnI, personally, do not know the traditions of the military in this instance but would have felt put on the spot with a last minute request to wear something other than the traditional cap and gown. I probably would have said ‘no’ also. nnnnWe don’t need to go on about the ‘he said/she said’ stuff. Lets move on, encourage all school systems in the area to look at this issue closer and make a policy. And encourage our young adults to address issues when they know there is an issue. They’re pretty much adults at the point of graduation, this should be expected of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1762437349 Melissa Merrill Snyder

    There is mail and e-mail. And this new invention called a telephone.

  • can you read?

    Hey dummy…. did you not see the comment saying SHE JUST GOT HOME?

  • can you read?

    if there is no reason to think this would be an issue why would you usen email or phone? it is and has ALWAYS BEEN not only socially acceptable nbut EXPECTED for people in the military to wear their uniform to formal events. You nobviously don’t have any military family members or you would be aware nof this.

  • ItsAboutTime

    “The reaction of the crowd is proof enough that their decision to not let her walk was the wrong one.” nnnnTHANK YOU!!!!

  • Level headed

    I would like to offer those who have commented on this article some factual information and encourage you to research this topic further. All branches of the military have rules and regulations regarding what they can and cannot wear and where they can and cannot wear it. They are all different. One thing they all have in common is that no one in the service is required to wear a uniform to a high school graduation or any other civilian event. They are allowed to wear their dress uniforms to specific events if they choose. The regulations are quite lengthly. This young lady should have been requesting permission from her commanding officer to wear her uniform. In other cases where this controversy has existed, the military has declined permission because All Branches of the service require their members to honor and obey all regulations both military and civilian. As a side, the young lady was not in dress regulation and she was wearing her hat indoors. That is against regulation.nn

  • shocked and outraged

    she had NO IDEA, nor did anyone else, that her wearing her uniform would be an issue…if she had, she definitely would have addressed the issue…and as for this issue happening in the past, ask Mr. Kubilus to give a specific example…he wont be able to because the statement he made about this being an issje in the past but being addressed earlier was also a lie…Mr. Kubilus you’re in the wrong line of work, you should be a politician! RARELY does anyone graduate from basic training BEFORE their high school graduation

  • duh

    If you had actually read the comments before you would have seen that she knew she wasn’t REQUIRED to wear her uniform and she said so. Nobody has to REQUEST to wear the uniform to a formal event, though. As you said “they are ALLOWED to wear their dress uniform to specific evens if they chose”. And if you want to get really technical… it isn’t called a hat in the military, but a cover. duh.

  • shocked and outraged

    wow…are you serious…you’re really gonna split hairs over her wearing her COVER indoors haha…first of all she NEVER said she was required to wear her uniform to the graduation…that is a lie stated by Mr. Kubilus…second of all she didn’t even have anything to do with the crowd going wild…her dad addressed the crown and asked them if anybody would object to them making an exception to their policy and letting her walk to stage…not ONE person objected…infact, they all thought it was totally ridiculous that they weren’t allowing it…then as the sheriff deputy escorted him out some random guy stood up and took over…THAT is when the crowd really got fired up…and her brother got the “LET HER WALK” chant going…she sat quietly during the whole thing…she had NOTHING to do with the crowd going wild…so you shouldn’t have anything negative to say about her…by the way “Level headed”, were you ever in the military?

  • Level Headed

    I believe there was an earlier post that said she was required to wear her uniform and forgive my civilian terminology with the hat thing. Regardless it is against regulation to wear her cover inside the building. The Army allows the dress uniform to be worn at funerals, weddings, and other ceremonies. It would have been totally appropriate for her to wear it if she were going to the graduation as an observer. The problem lies in whether it was appropriate for her to not follow the rules of the civilian ceremony. Yes they did allow her to walk but the alternative would have not been able to process due to all the chanting etc. This was their graduation too. All the seniors know the dress rules.

  • Level headed

    Yes they should have a voice. it is THEIR Ceremony and before you attack my patriotism etc….my husband is retired Navy. He was in Vietnam and Desert Storm. I am very proud of his service and of who is as a person. However, all organizations, clubs, teams,etc. establish rules to the best of their ability that help maintain order, establish safe environments, and to protect their members. A school has an obligation to the staff and the students to establish rules that will best serve the interests of all. The rules of graduation have been established to provide the students and their families with a distinguished and meaningful ceremony that is honoring to all of them. They have all achieved something special. This isn’t about anyone’s special interests. It’s about the graduating class as a whole celebrating their accomplishment which is graduating from high school.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1762437349 Melissa Merrill Snyder

    Name calling not necessary.nnnAnd, as I said before, there are other means of communication. Tradition is that graduating seniors wear caps and gowns. A simple phone call or e-mail would have alerted school officials to the fact she wanted to wear her uniform. It could have been dealt with earlier in the day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1762437349 Melissa Merrill Snyder

    I can read, can you???nnFrom my original post: I”, personally, do not know the traditions of the military in this ninstance…”

  • shocked and outraged

    i agree with you there…but once again Melissa had NOTHING to do with the crowd’s outburst…her dad started the whole thing and the crowd agreed with him so after he was escorted out THEY kept it going…she sat quietly through the whole thing until Mr. Randolph came and took her out to line up with all the other graduates…so SHE didn’t break any rules…and MOST people would totally agree with what her dad did…infact many shook his hand after the ceremony

  • spd7171

    The uniform of the day was cap and gown. Good for her on joining the military but she was in the wrong for not showing up in a cap and gown.

  • Redleg

    I have seen comments about she should have called or e-mailed, you also stated you do not know military traditions. During training, you do not have access to a phone or computer anytime you want. In fact IF she JUST got back from training, she MAY still have been on orders. I find it funny how people that NEVER serviced become military experts, like one person comments about the regulations. If you really read those regs, you would know the difference between a hat and cover. So that tells me you do not fully understand the regs. Also there is times when you wear you cover indoors. Ifyou have not served you do not understand the pride a new, current. old, retired Soldier has about that uniform. You will never understand.nBeside the fact is some school officials have always tried to regulate the military activities around the schools and school functions. (I did not say all, I said some.) Schools are graded on how many students go to post secondary schools. This Soldier must have been a great student to grad early, complete basic training and AIT, in time to be home for graduation. PV2 Stevens, I SALUTE you. HOOAH!!nFor those that think it is wrong to wear the uniform, I pity you. This Soldier is willing to give her life to protect you and your family. There should be no one, and I mean no one that can tell a Soldier to cover their uniform or they can not wear their uniform for an occassion. As far as geting permission, a soldier in transition has signed out of one unit and has not signed into the next unit. If you do not have a clue as to how the military works, maybe you need to join to find out the facts.

  • Sick of it all

    I watched as this young lady chose to honor her country over a silly cap and gown. She handled herself with more grace and dignity than everyone making assumptions as to why she wore her uniform. As for Cloverleaf…. why are they so worried about everyone being equal on this one day and not the other 175 days that students attend? Why are they not worried about those who are teased and tormented during the school year? If they want students to be “equal” why not mandate uniforms? Or better yet, how about putting someone in charge with understanding and compassion? Hell, I’d be happy if they had a brain.

  • shocked and outraged

    she had NO IDEA, nor did anyone else, that her wearing her uniform wouldn be an issue…if she had, she definitely would have addressed the nissue earlier

  • shocked and outraged

    “Or better yet, how about putting someone in charge with understanding and compassion? Hell, I’d be happy if they had a brain.” i’m sure everyone knows who you’re referring to haha

  • Just facts

    Melissa Merrill Snyder, phones were invent long ago!!! (Not a new invention) Did you not catch the fact she was in Chemical classes, and just got home!!! Plus the simple fact who would think that you would have a school that would descriminate a person for whering a Military uniform that she worked hard for, during her Senior year?!?! It is not often that a person is done early their Senior and complete not only Bootcamp but Chemical Classes in time to come back and graduate with their class!!! That was a big part of her Senior year!!! She shouldn’t of needed to have an acception made, nor did she no it would be a problem!!! Please read carefully and comprihend before you make you snide remarks!!! It is a shame that there is so many negative remarks toward a wonderful young woman that is serving our country and has accomplished as much as she has all before her Highschool graduation!!! Who conducted herself so well through all the bullshit that got tossed at her!!! It sickens me!!! God bless all of you who still honor our Military and have sence enough to realize that this should never of been an issue and should never be in the future!!! God bless our military past,present future, dead and alive!!!

  • lookingallaroundme

    Discipline by Zip Code–Cloverleaf invented that term.

  • high-tec-red-neck

    If I was a senior and would have been graduating with her I would not have walked. As for the dress code our military uniform should be considered a higher dress code in my book. I would have been upset it she had not worn her military uniform.

  • Just Facts

    Maybe Senior Melissa Stevens had deap personal reasons for wearing her Army uniform. It was not for attention or to upstage her fellow graduates. In the last 5 months she has graduated Army Bootcamp and graduated her AIT classes (Chemical Specialist) She didn’t just pass, she did very well! The Army let her come home a few days early, just so she could graduate with her High School class! She is very greatful that they let her walk with her class! It meant a lot to her! Why do you think her Father did what he did? Wearing her uniform was personal. Senior Melissa Stevens is an American Soldier, she is Army Strong and she is proud to be serving our Country for the next 8 years! This is who she is!

  • Shelly Slader

    I don’t understand why there is such a big deal over military fatigues. Does it really even matter that much? They are a sign of pride and respect. What else matters?