Warwick School District will allow graduating students planning to enter the military to don sashes during the ceremony tonight.
The decision was announced in a website post from Superintendent April Hershey early this morning. The display of military sashes has not been allowed in the past.
"We have decided to slightly alter our ceremony to honor our graduates who have chosen this path," Hershey said.
Parents can place military sashes on their students after the pronouncement of graduation and before diplomas are handed out, according to the district. There are about 340 graduates, and fewer than 10 are anticipating military service.
Jeremy Strathmeyer, Command Sergeant Major for Headquarters Battalion, 28th Infantry Division, and father of two Warwick students, said the decision was "more than appropriate."
"For Warwick and Dr. Hershey to honor the families ... is extremely important," said Strathmeyer, who has been an active member of the National Guard for 25 years of active service.
He emailed Hershey early this morning after seeing a Facebook post from another Warwick parent who expressed frustration about his child not being allowed to wear a military sash during graduation.
"She called me right away," he said. She had drafted the plan to have parents place the sashes and asked Strathmeyer if he thought it was an appropriate honor.
"It draws good, positive attention for our young people who are making the decision to serve," he said.
Jackie Yanchocik, spokeswoman for the district, said it is their understanding that recruiters have been pushing for students going into the military to wear sashes.
"While we appreciate that, we believe that we have heard the community’s feedback, and have reached a compromise of honoring what students have done here at Warwick, and where they are headed in their future," she said.
Strathmeyer wasn't planning on going to the high school graduation — his sixth grader son has a graduation today, too — but he said he'll look for photos on social media afterward.