Some miss graduation due to dress code

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

COURTLAND—Southampton High School’s graduation dress code prevented Billy Simmons Sr. from watching his son get his diploma on Saturday.

According to Simmons’ wife, Linda, her husband was among about 50 not allowed to attend the graduation due to their attire.

In place for more than 15 years, the dress code that prohibits jeans, T-shirts, shorts, sneakers or flip-flops is in place for a reason, officials said.

“What they are dressing for is their young people who have worked so long, and it’s a sign of respect,” said high school Principal Allene Atkinson. “Our particular graduation is a very serious event.”

The dress code is printed on tickets for the ceremony.

Teachers and county sheriff’s deputies are there to enforce it, said school board Chairman Russell Schools.

Simmons was wearing a pair of Dickie pants and a short-sleeved Henley pullover, according to Linda Simmons.

“He was told he could not go in,” she said. “My husband is a redneck truck driver and said ‘I’ll be damned’ and went through the door, and was met by three cops. I felt it was just ridiculous.”

“Rather than spoil his son’s day, he (didn’t argue the matter),” she added. “He went from (angry) at first, then he was disappointed and then he was upset. He felt like he disappointed his son.”

Those turned away because of their attire have options.

“One of which is to get into appropriate attire, or let them go into the auditorium where they can watch it on a
big screen,” Schools said.

He didn’t believe as many as 50 people were turned away on Saturday, while Atkinson avoided answering
the question.

“I will tell you, your story is the kids,” she said. “They were offered $3.8 million in scholarships and raised $20,0491 for community service. The story is these are 193 wonderful graduates.”

Guests aren’t the only ones who have a dress code.

Senior boys must wear black dress pants, white long-sleeved shirts and a tie. Girls must wear white dresses
and white shoes.