Stuck a Feather in Her Cap and Was Denied a High School Diploma

Whose graduation ceremony is it, anyway?


Chelsey Ramer
Chelsey Ramer

Here's some silliness at a high school in Alabama: A student of Escambia Academy High School was fined $1,000 and is being denied her diploma and her transcripts for wearing an eagle feather on her graduation cap to honor her Poarch Creek Indian heritage at her commencement ceremony.

Courtesy of Indian Country:

"About two months ago, me and the other Indian seniors from the graduating class asked our headmaster if we could wear the feathers on our caps. She told us 'no' and that if we did, she would pull us off the field," [Chelsey] Ramer said.

Ramer says soon after their request, the school gave graduating students a contract that they had to sign or they would not be able to participate in graduation.

"I never signed that paper," she said.

The contract outlined rules for what to wear at the graduation ceremony. It forbid any "extraneous items during graduation exercises." It also said students violating the contract would not get their diplomas until appropriate disciplinary actions were taken and students paid a $1,000 fine.

Escambia is a private school, so at least this authoritarian insult can't be blamed on the public school system. But also of note, when Ramer returned to the school to try to resolve the problem, she discovered the headmaster was no longer working for the school. She said she was told the woman was fired and a basketball coach at the school had taken over as a temporary headmaster. Nobody would tell Ramer, though, whether there was a relationship between her leaving and the controversy over the eagle feather, and the school is not responding to the press. Ramer apparently still does not yet have her diploma. If the headmaster did get booted over the eagle feather incident, that's an outcome you won't ever see at a public school without three years of investigations and disciplinary hearings.

I can only imagine this school leadership's reaction to my nephew's homeschool graduation a week ago. He played a bitchin' electric guitar solo right in the middle of it.