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Controversy Around Student Denied Diploma For Wearing Flag Goes Viral

(Asheboro High School – Facebook Live Stream)

LATEST UPDATE: Diploma Controversy Leads To Threats, Police Investigating

ASHEBORO NC– The controversy over Asheboro High School denying a student his diploma after he wore a Mexican flag during the graduation ceremony Thursday night has gone viral. 

It all started at the Asheboro High School graduation held Thursday, which was streamed live on Facebook by the school. Eighteen-year-old Ever Lopez walked past several teachers on his way to the stage with the Mexican Flag draped over his gown.

As his name is called Lopez walks on stage and shakes hands with principal Crooks, but as he reaches for his diploma holder Dr. Crooks holds it back and there is an obvious exchange between the two. The student starts to appear to try to remove the flag and a loud uproar and booing can be heard from the crowd. Dr. Crooks hands over the diploma holder and the student leaves the stage. 

(Scott Pelkey / Acme News)

“After the ceremony we had to go get the actual paper diploma, and when I walked up to get mine they said Ms Crooks got to talk to you and I was like Oh no” said Lopez. “They said I had to apologize”. When he refused Lopez said he was denied his Diploma. In a video shared on TikTok which now has over 3 million views, Lopez and his family can be seen in the hallway with Dr. Crooks as several police officers approach, and everyone exits. No Audio can be heard of the interaction. 

@wordssaymorethanactions

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♬ Childish Gambino – This Is America / Post Malone – Congratulations – carneyval

In a statement, Asheboro City Schools “we strongly support our students’ expressions of their heritage in the appropriate time and place. Our graduation dress code is clearly shared with students ahead of time, and the wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code.” 

Social media attention helped spread the news of the incident with the video trending on TikTok’s For You page, and a tweet from Lopez’s cousin had more than 1,300 retweets. The story was picked up internationally by UNILAD is a British Internet media company, as well as Indy500NewsweekFox 8WXIIWFMY, and several other local news outlets. 

Friday afternoon a crowd gathered with Lopez in front of Asheboro High school to protest and call for him to receive his diploma. The supporters brought Mexican flags and held up signs saying “Free Ever’s Diploma”. “I don’t even know half of these people here, that’s what’s crazy,” said Lopez “I made it, I still walked the stage, I feel great with all the support and everyone has my back”. Lopez said his family is considering taking legal action against Asheboro City Schools. 

Supporters gather outside Asheboro High School to protest Ever Lopez being denied his diploma for wearing a Mexican flag at graduation. [Scott Pelkey / Acme News]

A change.org petition named “Give this man his diploma” was started and by the time the group gathered at the High School, it had reached more than 18,000 signatures, at the time of publication it had reached 32,272 signatures.  

Despite all the attention, the school system isn’t backing down. As of 2 PM on Friday Lopez said he still had not received his Diploma. The school system has been mostly silent other than issuing a statement early on Friday that it shared on Facebook. When comments on the post reached close to 1,000 Asheboro City Schools limited who could comment on the post. Asheboro City School’s public information officer only pointed to the statement they issued without answering any questions in an email to Asheboro News Now. 

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon Asheboro City Schools released a 2nd statement:

Unfortunately, the incident at AHS last night has been misrepresented across a number of social media platforms. The heart of the issue is the fact that the student did not follow the established dress code for the event and detracted from the importance and the solemnity of the ceremony. Our dress code is in place to ensure the dignity of the event is upheld and is fair to all students. Graduation is a milestone event and it is grossly unfair for one individual to diminish this event by violating the dress code.

Furthermore, the following information are the facts of what happened last night.
· The student attended and fully participated in the graduation ceremonies at AHS.

· This incident is not about the Mexican flag. Students were encouraged to express their identity by decorating their mortar boards. A number of students followed the protocol and had the Mexican flag and other representations appropriately displayed during the ceremony.
AHS has a long standing tradition of high standards for our students. Graduation is no different. These policies are in place so that all students and families have the opportunity to enjoy graduation. We are disheartened by the many comments by those not present at the event, along with those by individuals who do not have all of the facts.

AHS has long celebrated and embraced a diverse student body and will continue to work on behalf of all students.

Asheboro City Schools

LATEST UPDATE: Diploma Controversy Leads To Threats, Police Investigating

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