High school graduations are one of the most important rites of passage in a teenager’s life. Four years of hard work, friendships, and dreams for the future all culminate in a shining moment that will be remembered long after the caps and gowns are collecting dust.
So imagine Daverius Peters’ dismay when on May 19, as he headed into the ceremony to receive his diploma, he was stopped at the door by the fashion police. Although his black-topped, white-soled sneakers were anything but outrageous, Peters learned they were in violation of the school’s dress code and he was denied entry.
It looked as if Peters was about to miss his chance to walk across the stage with his classmates—until someone stepped in with both feet—and shoes—to turn things around.
When the distraught senior caught sight of a friendly face he went looking for help. John Butler, a para-educator at Boutte, Louisiana’s Hahnville High School was on hand for the graduation as a parent, not a staff member, but once he learned the details of Peters’ predicament, he accompanied the young man he’d come to know and respect back to the entry to see if he could change the gatekeeper’s mind.
“[I was] hoping that maybe if she saw me with him, she would let it go, but she insisted on not letting this young man in, and I didn’t have time to go back and forth with her,” Butler told The Washington Post. “It was a no-brainer… 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.”
Without missing a beat, Butler simply swapped his size-11 loafers for Peters’ size-9 athletic shoes. With seconds to spare, Peters made it inside the venue just as the doors closed and was able to keep his place in the graduation line.
Although his family was initially confused by the last-minute wardrobe substitution, they were thrilled that Butler’s quick thinking kept a joyful celebration from turning into an ugly situation.
“I wasn’t surprised because Mr. Butler is that type of person,” a grateful Peters told The Washington Post. “At school, if you’re having a bad day, he’ll be the one to take you out of class, walk around the school with you and talk to you.”
It’s said that a truly generous man will give the shirt off his back to someone in need. Now it seems, the adage also applies to the shoes off his feet.