Students not allowed to display Army sashes at graduation

Sharyl Akers is an Army recruit, an aspiring field medic and an Orting High School senior set to graduate Thursday.  She said she was not looking for a fight, but now that she is in one, she is not backing down.

Akers, along with two other classmates, want to wear sashes from the military to represent their impending service. She has friends at nearby White River High School who wore them without issue.

“I think any high school [graduate] who wants to wear them should be allowed to wear them,” Akers said.

However, the Orting School District said no.

In a statement released to KIRO 7, superintendent Marci Shepard wrote:

“We honor and deeply respect our members of the military and those students who will enter the military following graduation. However, high school graduation is a celebration of the accomplishments students have earned during their pursuit of an Orting High School diploma. We do not individually highlight the various post-secondary plans of our students other than to have them stand and be recognized as a group attending a two-year or four-year college, enlisting in the military, entering the work force, etc.

"The only individual variance we allow to our graduate cap and gown is the recognition of cultural heritage regalia (i.e. Eagle feathers, lei, cedar cap).”

Shepard said she will be honoring those joining the military during her speech by asking their families to stand.

Akers said the standing honor is not good enough and does not allow her to display specific Army pride. The new recruit said she is ready for a fight.

“I fully plan on showing up and wearing it, even if they say I can’t walk,” Akers said. “I’m going to hide it under my robes and pull it out when I’m about to walk.”