Two Kamiakin students barred from wearing military cords at grad - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Two Kamiakin students barred from wearing military cords at graduation

Posted: Updated:

6-6-18 UPDATE:

KENNEWICK, WA - The graduation controversy for two Kamiakin high schoolers enlisting in the military after graduating continues today.

We first brought you the story last night of the teens not allowed to wear their cords to the graduation ceremony. There was a huge response on our Facebook page - we heard from veterans, people for these two girls, and some not - and today we reached out to one of the girls' parents to see how she feels about all of this.

"I was very surprised that it was even a conversation," said Maddison Dunn's mother, Kathleen Dunn. "I didn't believe that there would be a yes or no to this issue."

Some of the comments made sugggested that the two girls hadn't earned their cords yet.

"There were comments saying NHS students have already earned their cords where as military enlistees have not," Kathleen said. "She is also a part of the NHS. Right now that is not as big of an issue as wearing her military cords."

And Maddison's response to the school board's initial message to her?

"It seems like they're picking academic achievements over maybe a different route that students may take that doesn't involve higher education," said Maddison. 

Given these endless comments, we reached out to the school board again asking for an on-camera interview and to see if anything changed, and we got their response:

"Graduation week is one of the busiest weeks for everyone and I do not have anyone who is available to be interviewed. We encourage the students who have brought up this topic to attend the next board meeting on June 20 to communicate their idea to the board in person. The board will be happy to hear their thoughts on any potential change to the district’s current procedure or policy."

This, however, would happen after the two girls' graduation this weekend. But Madison's mom says regardless she's proud of her daughter for fighting for what she believes in.

"I just told her, 'you do what you feel is right. Even if nothing changes, you can sleep at night. Now I'm going to cry," Kathleen choked up, tears beginning to form. "I'm just super proud of that little girl."

If these two girls are willing to fight this hard for graduation cords, then rest assured - they'll put even more into their military journey.

Two neighboring school districts, Pasco and Richland both allow these military cords as well as cords for other various activities.

The two girls are hoping the community will come and speak up at the June 20 school board meeting..

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6-5-18 ORIGINAL STORY:

KENNEWICK, WA - Two Kamiakin students are speaking out about not being able to wear military cords at graduation.

'Tis the season for graduations, and the excitement is stronger than ever for high school seniors... but a couple of Kamiakin students are speaking out after hearing some news about what they could and couldn't wear on graduation day.

Maddison Dunn and Jazmine Brown are getting ready to graduate high school and head off to the military, but this week, the two girls were told some unfortunate news about their graduation ceremony - that they couldn't wear their military cords. After reaching out to the Kennewick School District, Jazmine and Maddison were told only National Honor Society cords are allowed.

"It kinda sucks to not be able to show that off on the one day when everybody is watching and families are there in town," said Jazmine.

Maddison reached out directly to the district's superintendent.

"He said [if one] club uses cords, then they have to let all others," Maddison explained. "I don't really feel like the military is a club."

The Kennewick School District says this a decade-long rule and released this statement earlier today:

"Kennewick School District wants our graduates entering the military to know that we are proud of them, respect them and appreciate their service. Our school board members and superintendent are highly supportive of military service. We have board members who have served and our superintendent’s son is currently serving.

The tradition for the past several decades is that the high schools recognize all of our students entering the military at each graduation ceremony by individually reading their names and the branch of the service they will be entering. We ask them to stand and be recognized at each ceremony by the entire graduation audience. This recognition shows the pride, support and respect we have for those who choose to serve our country.

We currently allow National Honor Society cords to be worn by those who have achieved high academic status. This allows us to maintain a focus at graduation on the students’ educational achievements while in high school."

But Maddison and Jazmine feel other accomplishments need to be recognized as well.

"It seems like they're picking academic achievement over a different route that students may take that isn't higher education," Maddison said.

The two students are hoping the community can come together for the June 20 board meeting to discuss changing this decade-long rule for future enlistees.

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