Michigan Principal Apologizes for Marine Uniform Comments

A graduation cap is thrown in the air at the conclusion of a commencement ceremony. (DoD photo/D. Myles Cullen)
A graduation cap is thrown in the air at the conclusion of a commencement ceremony. (DoD photo/D. Myles Cullen)

MARSHALL, Mich. — A high school principal in southern Michigan has apologized to two graduates whom he had chastised for wearing their Marine dress uniforms during commencement.

Marshall High School Principal Scott Hutchins apologized Monday for his comments regarding the two students' decision not to wear their caps and gowns on June 3, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. School officials had told the two students ahead of commencement that exceptions wouldn't be made to a policy requiring graduates to wear a cap and gown, Superintendent Randy Davis said.

Hutchins pulled aside Pfc. Willie Couch and Pfc. Samuel Hackworth at the ceremony, according to a statement released by Davis the day after graduation. Hutchins thanked them for their service but told them, "I do not feel you acted honorably today by not following our rules," the statement said.

"It was never my intent to offend or upset anyone or to do something that may have tarnished the memory of an amazing commencement ceremony, and I am sorry for any distress I have caused these two young men and their families," Hutchins said Monday.

"I have never referred to any member of our Armed Forces as dishonorable or said that they brought dishonor to their branch of the military, because I understand the implications of that word to our brave men and women that serve," the principal went on to add.

A school board member, whom the superintendent didn't identify, also expressed disappointment to Couch and Hackworth.

According to Davis, Hutchins had offered to provide red, white and blue cords for the Marines to wear at graduation and the district had also offered to make a special mention of their military service in the graduation program and when their names were called to accept diplomas. However, the families declined all of the offerings, he said.

Marine spokesman 1st Lt. William Tunney said the Marines haven't taken an official position on the interaction. He said Couch and Hackworth graduated from Marine recruit training and will continue combat training at Infantry school in North Carolina.

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