Clovis Unified student denied military sash at graduation, hopes to change rules

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Clovis North senior is proud to be joining the military next week, but the school district won't let him put his pride on display at graduation.

Jeremy Bartolomei is going straight from Clovis North to the military with a sense of purpose.

"I really do want to serve my country," he said. "It's always been kind of a dream of mine."

Jeremy graduates Wednesday and heads to Fort Jackson on Sunday for basic training.

But when the future soldier walks across the stage at Veterans Memorial Stadium to get his diploma, the irony is, he can't wear a sash showing where he's headed next.

"If I do try to wear it, I know for a fact I'll be pulled off in front of a couple thousand people," Bartolomei said.

Clovis Unified policy won't allow it.

"Students will only be allowed to wear adornment of any kind that is school-related or school-issued," said district spokesperson Kelly Avants.

Avants says they considered changing the policy after state law forced them to loosen their policy for people wearing religious or cultural adornments.

But in the end, they decided they already do a lot to recognize students joining the military -- like with their Patriots Dinner for future service members, plus a military signing day at Buchanan.

"And then during graduation we actually have a moment where we pause in everything else we're doing in that ceremony and individually recognize and honor students who are entering the military," Avants said.

We checked with a few other school districts to see what their policies are.

Fresno Unified and Visalia Unified let graduates wear pre-approved military sashes.

Merced Union High School District allows students who are already active wear their uniforms. If they're not already serving, they can wear adornments if they get approval from their principal.

Central Unified, like Clovis Unified, does not allow anything other than school-related adornments.

Bartolomei is hoping to change the rules.

"Because I'm a student, I'm one person," he said. "If I get more people on board, it's like punching through that line. That's what I'd like to do. I'd like to punch through that line. I'd like to test the waters in a way."

A campaign giving him purpose beyond his uniformed service.
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