Graduate not allowed academic pins at ceremony

An Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) policy has a specific list of chords and pins high school seniors can wear for graduation, however Jacob Stephens' pins aren't on it.

Stephens attends Amarillo High School, and the Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning, both apart of AISD. He received two pins his senior year, but he won't be wearing either Saturday during his high school graduation.

One pin is for passing a national exam that allows him to work as a clinical medical assistant. The other pin signifies his membership in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club.

"They're just pins, but they are something I worked hard for, and not just me there's a lot of students who did too," Stephens said.

Stephens dad Todd Stephens began to make calls when his son told him he wasn't allowed to wear the two pins.

"I called AISD, Amarillo High School and I even called Region 16," Todd said. "I finally heard back from Jacob's principal, but he stood his ground and said 'the pins wouldn't be allowed.'"

AISD responded to Pronews 7 with this statement: "Graduation is an excellent opportunity to recognize high school seniors who have earned special academic honors in national, state, or district programs. AISD has an approved list of these honor designations for graduation ceremonies."

An AISD representative also provided Pronews 7 with a list of acceptable pins and chords:

- Valedictorian/Salutatorian

- National Honor Society

- Honor Graduate

- Distinguished Achievement Program graduate

- Recommended High School Program graduate

- Industry certificate or Completion of nine college hours

- Superintendent's Scholar (8-semester)

- Akademia (affiliated with the National Honor Society)

However, Stephens and his family find it difficult to agree, "We would understand the AISD policy if we were trying to get Jacob to wear a chord that his church gave him or Boy Scouts, but he went to AISD schools," Todd said.