Mentor Schools ‘5th Year Senior’ prohibited from participating in graduation ceremonies

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 5:02 PM EDT
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MENTOR-ON-THE LAKE, Ohio (WOIO) - When Heather Yeckley found out her son would not be able to participate in graduation activities, she took matters into her own hands to celebrate him.

“So Mentor High School refused to give my sign a 2023 graduation sign for our front yard, they give out to all the seniors every year so we made our own sign. It’s a little water damaged but I did my best and then I also added in this sign, fighting for all 5th year seniors to walk the stage,” said Yeckley.

The Yeckley family made their own graduation signs after they said Mentor High School refused...
The Yeckley family made their own graduation signs after they said Mentor High School refused to give Dennis an official one.(WOIO-TV)

Her son, Dennis Yeckley is a 5th year senior. Dennis admits he didn’t graduate in 2022 because he hit some “bumps” but since that time, he’s stayed on track and is set to finish.

“I had some setbacks and I didn’t let the motivation and all that go away, I kept my motivation and fought hard just to get where I’m at so the recognition is just something I was always looking forward to,” he said.

Heather tells 19 News talks with school officials have stalled so they started a petition and have collected close to 170 signatures.

“He’s still doing the work, he’s still finishing his credits, he’s still doing what he needs to do to graduate and they’re denying him the chance to walk across the stage just to get a diploma. We don’t understand why, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.

19 News reached out to Mentor Schools and Kristin Estes, Director of Community Relations said in a statement:

“We can confirm that some of the claims made in the petition are inaccurate. Based on student privacy laws, we cannot share specific information about individual students and their educational activities. Typically, being a 5th year senior is not a reason that a student would not be allowed to participate in Commencement.”

But Dennis and the rest of the Yeckley family hopes the district reconsiders.

“We just want to see him graduate. We want to see him to wear his cap and gown, his tassel, we want to watch him get his name called on stage so we can cheer for him like we did the other two kids, you know it’s fair, he deserves it,” said Heather.

Mentor High School graduation is scheduled for June 4, 2023.