LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – College over a commitment to the military. A high school student said his decision to wear a Marine Corps t-shirt for “varsity t-shirt day” left him in hot water. The student therefore contacted the WAVE 3 help desk for assistance. And convenience store Eric Flack’s investigation led to policy changes at St. Xavier High School.
Zachery Mitchell has wanted to serve his country since he was in kindergarten.
“I drew an army guy and said I wanted to be a marine,” Zack recalls.
On June 11, 19-year-old Zack will head to training camp just weeks after graduating from St. Xavier High School, a prep school at the University of Louisville. Zack was accepted to the Citadel, but decided to drop out of college and head straight for the Marines because that’s what he always wanted to do.
When St. X hosted their college day, a day where senior graduates get a break from the dress code buttoned up to wear a t-shirt from their future college, Zack and his mother rushed to buy a Marines t-shirt. for Zack to wear.
“I was extremely proud to show my classmates that I was going to join the service and make my country proud,” Zack said.
Instead of pride, Zack said he felt dishonored when the school’s discipline officer told him the day was all for college T-shirts and his Marines shirt wasn’t eligible.
“I was like I didn’t understand because I’m wearing my Marine Corps t-shirt because that’s what I do after high school. I know it’s not college, but it is. is what I do, “Zack said. the disciplinary of the school. “And he said, ‘you have to listen to me right now and take that off.'”
Zack said the discipline official told him to go to the office to put on a shirt and tie out of the lost and found.
“In the found objects, I found a shirt three sizes smaller than the shirt I’m actually wearing and a coffee stained tie,” Zack said. “I walked into the classroom completely humiliated and dejected. Then my class teacher told me to go to the bathroom and freshen up because he could tell I was upset about what was going on. had just happened. “
Zack wasn’t the only one crying. His mother, Kandi Mitchell, rushed to school to give her son a change of clothes. She then asked to speak to the manager.
“I said what an honorable thing to have your son in a Navy shirt,” Kandi Mitchell said in a broken voice. “And that means so much to him. And then doing it in front of all his classmates.”
Many of those classmates took to Zack’s Facebook page to show their outrage. Meanwhile, Zack called WAVE 3’s help desk to ask for an apology from the school. He won’t.
“From our perspective, this is not a problem,” said Dr. Perry Sangalli, president of St. Xavier, in a telephone interview.
According to Sangalli, the rules for the varsity jersey day were clearly defined for all seniors, including Zack. Sangalli said only college shirts are allowed, and students who don’t go to college have the option to wear a college shirt of their choice. No exceptions. Sangalli said he was sorry that Zack was so upset with what had happened, but that he would not apologize for the way the school handled the situation.
“It would be impossible for Zack not to understand what was expected,” said Sangalli, who called the incident a dress code issue.
It’s much more than that for this future Marine.
“For me, the message I got from my disciplinarian was that if you don’t go to college, you are nobody,” Zack said.
Sangalli said St. Xavier High School is very respectful of the military and those who serve. And the school decided to change its policy following the investigation by convenience store Eric Flack.
In an email sent to WAVE 3’s help desk, St. X students and alumni, and posted on the school’s website, the school wrote:
In response to recent requests for information on appropriate dress code policies for College T-Shirt Day, Saint Xavier High School decided that in the future, the school would allow students to wear shirts depicting the US Army. “
The school also made it clear that they held Zack in part responsible for what had happened.
“We wish the student approached us in advance to let us know his intentions. We would have appreciated the opportunity to discuss an optional military shirt.”
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Copyright 2012 WAVE News. All rights reserved.