a pair of hands tying the laces of a pair of black dress shoes

Teacher gives teen his shoes so he can walk in graduation ceremony

Graduation can be a stressful time for everyone. It’s enough just making sure you show up on time and don’t miss your name being called when you’ve fallen asleep during the ceremony. Every institution has its rules about what you should wear. However, can you imagine not being allowed to walk in graduation because of your shoes? Well, at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana, Daverius Peters almost missed his graduation for showing up with the wrong shoes. The 18-year-old high school senior was surprised when he was barred at the entrance by a school official on the 19th of May this year. His black sneakers with white soles were against regulations, apparently, even though he wore the correct purple hat and robe. They wouldn’t make an exception for Daverius, and panic came over him outside the convention center where the ceremony was held.

Teacher Gives Student His Shoes to wear to Walk in Graduation.
Image: John Butler

When he arrived at the entrance, Daverius was told that his “shoes violated the dress code and I couldn’t attend the ceremony unless I changed them.” The dress-code policy required dark dress shoes, and “no athletic shoes” were permitted. When asked about his shoes, Daverius said he figured he “could wear them because they’re black.” Even though the rest of his attire was acceptable, he couldn’t just walk in graduation. Daverius “was in shock,” he admitted. “I felt humiliated. I just wanted to walk across the stage and get my diploma.” As it was only minutes before the ceremony, he “didn’t have time to stop at a store.

Daverius Peters, The Washington Post
Peters wearing his black leather sneakers, he wouldn't be allowed to walk in graduation.
Image: Jima Smith

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Luckily, a teacher showed up and saved the day

At this stage, Daverius was anxious and started pacing outside the center’s entrance. He wondered what his parents would say if he weren’t allowed to attend his graduation ceremony. That’s when he thankfully ran into John Butler, who immediately tried to remedy the situation. The 38-year-old staff member is a teacher at Hahnville and a mentor to many students like Daverius. The student explained his footwear issue to Butler, who was actually there attending his daughter’s graduation. At first, Butler spoke to the woman at the entrance to see if Daverius could walk in graduation, and when she insisted, he took matters into his own hands. Without giving it any further thought, Butler knelt down, removed his shoes, and offered them to the young student. Regardless of the size difference, Daverius appreciated the gesture, and he was finally allowed into the ceremony.


“So I just slipped them on like slippers,” Peters said. Mentioning to CBS News that “I felt the joy. The whole day, I couldn’t wait to 6 o’clock, couldn’t wait to get ready to graduate across the stage.”

John Butler standing with his wife and daughter.
Image: John Butler

When Daverius told Butler about having the wrong shoes, the teacher said it “sounded crazy to me.” He continued, saying that “there was nothing eccentric about his shoes.” When Butler spoke to the woman at the entrance he hoped “that maybe if she saw me with him, she would let it go.” This was not the case, and instead “she insisted on not letting this young man in, and I didn’t have time to go back and forth with her.” When asked about giving Daverius his shoes, Butler said “It was a no-brainer.” He felt that “This was the most important moment in his life up to that point, and I wasn’t going to let him miss it for anything.” In the end, he was “just happy to see him receive his diploma.”

John Butler, The Washington Post

The student’s mother was concerned about the school’s policies

Once the ceremony was finished, Daverius’ mother, Jima Smith, was amazed by John Butler’s kind gesture. Although she was extremely grateful, she wondered about future students getting similar treatment in the future. Those less fortunate might have felt slighted by the situation, that maybe the shoes they provided their child weren’t good enough. Being able to walk in graduation meant everything to Daverius, who had studied remotely for most of the year due to his chronic asthma. Thankfully, Hahnville High School is taking the matter seriously and seizing the opportunity to improve its policies. They were also proud of John Butler’s actions in the situation.


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  1. A student was barred from graduation for wearing the wrong shoes.The Washington Post. June 1, 2021
  2. A student was turned away from his graduation ceremony for wearing the wrong shoes.CBS News. June 2, 2021