Principal Barbara Schwitzer handed out diplomas yesterday to graduates of Martin Spalding High School, and in turn about a dozen of them handed her little slips of paper with Bryan Wade's name on them.
Bryan was supposed to be on stage with his classmates from the Catholic school in Anne Arundel County. Instead, he had to watch from the audience as the Class of '92 graduated and his friends passed protest notes because he must wait for his diploma to come in the mail.
Too bad, said the principal, who banned Bryan from participating in the ceremony because he showed up late for graduation rehearsal last Thursday.
That's the price of being tardy.
"People are looking at me like I'm from outer space, but this is a very commonplace policy," said Ms. Schwitzer after yesterday's ceremony, held at St. Phillip Neri Roman Catholic Church in Linthicum.
"After exams, a lot of kids head down to the beach, and if we didn't have this rule, nobody would show up for practice, and you wouldn't have a graduation. I feel sorry for this student and his parents, but I have to think about the other 142 graduates," she said.
Fred and Janice Wade, parents of the Crofton student, were enraged and talked to lawyers about getting an injunction postponing the ceremony until Bryan was allowed to participate.
"They also told me I was very irresponsible," said Bryan, who missed about an hour of the first of Spalding's two graduation rehearsals and showed up for the second with both of his parents to no avail.
A couple of other students were also late for practice, Bryan said, but they were apparently allowed to graduate because their parents called the school with explanations before the practice.
"I overslept," he said.