A shoe policy almost kept high school senior from walking at his graduation. Then a teacher stepped in.

One high school senior almost missed walking at his own graduation because he was told a school policy did not allow his type of shoes in the ceremony.  

When Daverius Peters, a senior at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana,arrived at the convention center where his graduation was being held on May 19, a school representative blocked him from entering. 

“She just stopped me saying I couldn’t wear my shoes,” Peters said. “Another kid had the exact same shoes, so I was confused.”

The school’s graduation dress code policy states male students must wear dark dress shoes and tennis shoes are not allowed. Peters was wearing Alexander McQueen black leather sneakers with white rubber soles, but still had on his white dress shirt, tie and black pants which also were a part of the school policy.

“I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. And I was just shocked when it started because my shoes were black and dark-colored, so like why am I getting stopped,” Peters said.

That’s when a teacher stepped in.

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John Butler, a teacher at the school whose daughter was also graduating that day, caught sight of Peters. 

“There were only about five minutes left until the doors to graduation closed, and I was waiting outside for my wife to join us when Daverius comes to me in a panic and tells me they are not letting him walk the stage to receive his diploma and graduate,” Butler said.

Peters explained the situation to Butler, who went back to the school official to discuss the issue. She still insisted that Peters was not allowed to walk the stage. 

What happened next, Butler said felt like a “no-brainer.” He was going to give his size 11 shoes to Peters so the high school senior could walk the stage.

John Butler and Daverius Peters standing side by side. Butler is barefoot in this picture as he lent his shoes to Peters. (Photo: John Butler)

“At first, he asked me what size I was,” Peters said. “I said a 9, and he gave me his shoes. I slipped on his shoes like slippers because of how big it was.”

Meanwhile, Peters’ mom, dad, grandma and siblings had rushed in to take a seat and didn’t have a chance to pick up a program of the ceremony. When Peters’ name had been called, his mom said they were all having a discussion on whether that was actually him. 

“I’m like ‘That is Daverius’ and they were like ‘No, that is not Daverius. That kid has on brown shoes,’” Jima Smith recalls.”

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When she later confronted her son, Peters told her Butler lent him the shoes so he would not have problems getting his diploma. It wasn’t until her son’s story went viral that his mom learned the whole story.

“When I turned to Mr. Butler, I called and contacted him and had a conversation with him asking him exactly what happened. … I was literally in tears because I did not know all of this took place and that my son had to experience it,” Smith said.

Smith said she understands students have to wear certain attire for the graduation ceremony, but the school should do a better job of addressing the dress code policy.

“The cap and gown are already costing us $138.50, and you don’t know people’s situation,” Smith said. “So you know I had a big problem about that as well. Like how about a kid who can’t afford to wear these things that you’re requiring, and I think the school needs to put something in place, really look deep into exactly what’s going on.”

Butler said he plans planning to have a talk with school administrators to review the dress code policy and other guidelines for future ceremonies.

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