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Reversal will allow Keene student to participate in graduation

Union Leader Correspondent

June 19. 2014 9:57PM

KEENE — A Keene High School administration decision to prohibit a student from participating in Friday’s graduation was overruled by the Keene School Board Wednesday night.

Lily McGartland, 18, of Keene didn’t take the traditional diploma track, according to her friend Kay Perkins, but deserves to participate in the ceremony nonetheless.

Perkins started an online petition asking Keene administrators to allow McGartland to participate in graduation.

The petition garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.

Wednesday night the Keene School Board heard from McGartland and Perkins and voted to reverse the previous ruling of high school administrators that McGartland not be issued a cap and gown and be prohibited from participating in the ceremony.

McGartland is technically a homeschooled student, but attended Keene High School for 3½ of her four years of high school.

McGartland has been an active member of the high school and is a member of the student council. She earned her GED last year and has earned college credits studying abroad through Franklin Pierce University, where her father is a professor. She plans to attend St. Michael’s College in Vermont.

“She has always known that she would not receive a traditional high school diploma because of her non-traditional education, but was never told that she wouldn’t be allowed to walk at graduation. One week before graduation, and after paying her senior dues, she was refused her cap and gown because she was never on the traditional ‘diploma track’ and had already earned her GED,” Perkins said in the petition. “It is immensely unfair that she, a member of our school and one of our peers, not be allowed to walk with her friends and classmates and take part in a very special and important event for every young adult. While she does not expect to receive a diploma, she should be allowed to walk at graduation with her classmates.”

Keene School Board member Susan Hay said Thursday that high school administrators were following school policy, but, in this case the school board felt an exception to the rule was warranted.

“There were significant and unique circumstances in Lily’s case,” Hay said. “We all took a look at this case and this situation and Lily’s requirements and made a decision that this was the right thing to do.”

The school board also voted to form a committee to study and possibly change the policy.

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