Valedictorian, four other seniors denied opportunity to attend graduation

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Five students at A.C. Prep Secondary School in Kansas City, Mo. couldn't walk at graduation Tuesday night because of an incident on a school trip last Friday.

There are few prouder moms that Arik Adams' mom. He's valedictorian of his senior class at A.C. Prep.

"I took college classes, AP classes, I made all A's in all my classes," said Arik.

Yet he, along with four other seniors, couldn't walk at graduation.

"I was very disappointed," Arik said. "And my family was disappointed, and I just wanted to walk across the stage so my family could be proud, and give my speech as the valedictorian of the class."

Arik said they had a class field trip this past Friday at the Legends Outlets. On the bus ride back, he said kids were cursing and throwing pennies and a teacher told the school.

"I shouldn't have been cursing, and I shouldn't have been making throwing motions, because she said I was making throwing motions, and I was," Arik explained. "I shouldn't have been doing that, but that's not the punishment I should have received."

He said the school reviewed the video on the bus and decided a proper punishment would be to not allow Arik and four other seniors involved to walk at graduation.

"I felt like my son got sentenced a five-year prison term for a speeding ticket!" said Arik's mom, Quiahenya Walker, who also felt the punishment was unfair.

Kansas City Public Schools released a statement to FOX 4 on Thursday regarding the incident and its decision:

"Kansas City Public Schools is not a liberty to discuss the concerns raised by the African Centered Prep valedictorian and his family. Federal privacy laws prevent KCPS from sharing information about individual student cases. However, the district believes thatgraduation is a privilege, not a right.  KCPS has guidelines in place and students are well aware before they graduate the types of instances that can cause them not to be able to participate in commencement exercises.  The district stands by its decision."

Other seniors who did get their opportunity to walk at graduation feel the same way as Arik's mom.

"I think that's very unfair for the families, and everybody," said Louis Sheppard, Arik's friend and classmate, "They even apologized and everything, but they still didn't let him walk."

"They said I couldn't be on the property, I couldn't be on any KCMO public school district property," added Arik, "I couldn't even go to the graduation to see my friends walk."

Arik said the other four seniors who couldn't walk were equally upset, and they feel the punishment was too cruel for what happened on that bus.

"Kids will be kids," said Walker, "It was seniors, their last day of school, everybody has been there."

"This is my first offense in all of my school history," Arik added, "and to not be able to walk..."

Arik is attending the University of Missouri in the fall and he's won a $200,000 dollar Kauffman scholarship to help pay for school. He also was accepted to Kansas State University and Stanford University.

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34 comments

  • AJ

    Is the punishment harsh? Maybe. But throwing things and cussing at a teacher? Doesn’t sound like valedictorian behavior to me. Kids will be kids? They’re adults! Grow up & behave as such! Don’t like the consequences? Don’t do the crime. I get so tired of parents coming to their child’s defense AFTER poor behavior & making excuses. He made a poor choice and as is such now has to live with the consequences. Face the consequences when they’re “small” & maybe kids will learn. Sad he can’t walk, but better to miss graduation now than years of his life later when someone decides to charge him with assault.

  • Sheila Marshall Wilken

    What recourse did the school have? Expel a senior?? Once again young adults making bad decesions then expecting to get a pass on it. Hope common sense prevails in their futures……. Parents should agree with the punishment or they are just as guilty wanting the infractions overlooked. Really cussing out a person who is in charge, can we expect this from you at your job too????????

  • Deborah Large

    I cannot believe what i am reading to not let these children walk for something so Minor when they have worked all these years to earn this right of passage is a disgrace to our education system what has become of our society….They need to reconsider this decision…

  • Daphnedoright

    We welcome you to the ZOU! Go, take your speech to your pastor or any church in KCMO, deliver it…be sure to call the media! youTube it…FB it…Tweet it. Lets go viral, Tiger!

  • Debbie

    I would not want to be a bus driver and have out of control students riding on my bus. It’s a safety issue. Those pennies could have hit the driver and caused an accident. I don’t think this was a harmless prank.

  • Tom Paine

    “Kids will be kids”??? I thought graduation was the transition to adulthood… So they can’t walk across the stage – big deal. It is not like they do not get their diplomas anyway – and his scholarship is still valid.

    Mistakes have consequences. There are no “do-overs” in the real world…

  • Sunni

    This is a good lesson learned about bad behavior. The “kids” just started the school of hard knocks. Bad choices have consequences until the day you die so learn from it early on.

  • Becki C

    A Valedictorian is supposed to be the best representative of his class. He should have stood and told the ones being buttheads to stop what they are doing and behave like the adults they were supposed to become in a few days. He should look on the bright side, he could be in jail for assault.

  • Angel

    Being in the meetings with my little brother, he was falsely accused of something he did not do. Have any of you seen this video of actions that happened? No. When speaking with the teacher she clearly stated he did not curse her out or throw pennies. Was he in the wrong place at the wrong time, yes. But taking away his graduation for something he did not do was just wrong. He admitted to cursing at another student for being SPIT on, what would your reaction have been? So until you know what happened don’t state what you think should have happened. During this conference he never once was disrespectful towards anyone. He behaved as an adult would have, I know students in that same school who have done a lot worse and they turn their heads because they have “bad attitudes”. But because it was someone they didn’t expect to be caught up in this it became a huge deal. The school district had nothing to say about this. So does that tell you all anything?

    • Angel

      he cursed for being spit on in which he apologized for cursing around her. The teacher stated he did apologize. Making a motion and actually doing it are two different things.

  • RM (@kanzaz)

    The cursing and throwing pennies wasn’t directed at the teacher. Nowhere in the article does it state that. Yet, people continue to use that as a justification for such a harsh punishment. To those who think it isn’t a big deal…you don’t have a clue.
    There were other ways those in charge could have chosen to punish these kids that would have been far more appropriate to their actions. Clean the bus, write a paper on how to behave on a field trip. Whatever. These seniors acted out on senior day, they did no physical violence, no property damage, no one was hurt.
    Perhaps there were other reasons that we aren’t privy to for what I believe was an overreaction by school officials to an isolated incident, at least for this young man who seems to have had a stellar academic career, to include being valedictorian.
    I feel badly for the students and their families, though I hope they put this behind them and continue to do well in their future endeavors, whatever they may be. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Samara

    Denying the valedictorian the right to attend the graduation ceremony because he cursed at a student and made throwing motions is absolutely ridiculous. However, I am happy the young man is attending MU and has received a scholarship from the Kauffman Foundation. I imagine this young man’s reading comprehension skills are superior to many of the above poster’s, based on the comments I read.

  • Nee

    They quick to punish kids by not letting them walk but keep letting people get a way with murder and everthing else just sad kcmo ain’t shit they got this shit backwards

  • Britny

    Seriously think the school went overboard…thats a major deal to be able to walk across stage and expecially being valedictorian so whats the whole point of taking that away from someone over something so minor?? i know teachers of the kcmo school district who curse and as seniors, of course they are going to enjoy their last few days of school…every year seniors enjoy their day of “senior pranks” which is way worse than a few pennies being thrown and i havent heard of kids being revoked of their priviledge to walk smh

  • Ben

    Fire the teacher and allow the kdis to walk. They earned it and this is setting a very bad example to other kids. It is already hard enough to get some kids to graduate without the administration taking away their big night because of seniors acting goofy at the end of a school year. Kids getting wild on a bus is old news but punishing these kids to the extreme is becoming the knee jerk reaction from the school.

  • Howler Monkey

    Quick, someone call “Rev’s” Jesse and Al!
    Call the KC Commie Star Editorial Department!
    Riot on the Plaza!
    Strike back against “The Man”!
    Refuse the next Legends Outlet “Advanced Shoplifting” class assignment!
    Burn your EBT cards! Oh, wait…forget that one…who wants a pizza? My card just got a re-load.

  • Amelia

    We all had worked hard, and were warned that if we did not strictly adhere to the rules we couldn’t walk the stage. We all knew, and we acted the way we needed so we could, they obviously were ignorant and didn’t so too bad. We as students all worked hard and if he had actually gotten away with it I personally would have been angry; we all had to follow the rules so we could walk, and if you can’t follow the rules you’re obviously not going to be treated like the rest. They all were arrogant and disrespectful in school and didn’t conduct themselves like the adults they wanted to be treated. So what they screwed up, you live and you learn. It was his responsibility to make sure he could walk, not the KCPS district. I mean honestly this isn’t shocking, it was shocking that he even was valedictorian, I mean he hasn’t had a good rep all year anyway. So what you get good grades? Having good grades does not mean that you’re an amazing person. Obviously he had a bad rep and the teachers and principal knew that so this time he did it, it’s not like he had hope and luck on his side. Let’s see if he can make it out of college. Throwing pennies, expected of children, not adults.

    • squeaky wheeler

      @Amelia, I’m not fond of your grammar, but you were able to communicate your point. I commend you on your good choices and common sense. Here’s hoping you make it a heck of a lot farther than this guy!