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Why some low-income students in Texas won't be participating in graduation

Published: Tuesday, May 27 2014 4:00 a.m. MDT

Some low-income high school students in Texas already face difficulties getting a diploma. But this year, hundreds of seniors in the Texas Coastal Bend may not walk in graduation ceremonies because of the cost of the cap and gown.

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It's graduation season and local news reports are filling up with high school seniors who may not graduate because of pranks or practical jokes, including one senior whose chemistry joke next to her yearbook photo may bar her from graduating, as reported in The Atlantic.

But for hundreds of students in the Texas Coastal Bend area, they won't participate in graduation ceremonies for a different reason. They can't afford the cap and gown. The area is known for being home to many low-income students who defy odds simply to attend high school, let alone receive a diploma. But they may not get a chance to “walk the stage" because of the $40 cost of the cap and gown, reports the Huffington Post.

Communities in Schools is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk teens.

"In the nine districts where Communities in Schools works, 40 percent of students are economically disadvantaged," Community in Schools Executive Director Gloria Taylor told the Huffington Post.

When the organization heard of the problem seniors faced in affording the graduation ceremony materials, Communities in Schools launched Walk the Stage, "a program that gives donors the opportunity to pay graduation costs for students in need," the Huffington Post reported.

"Many of our seniors did everything they were supposed to do … they made it. Then we found out a lot of them were not excited," Taylor told the Huffington Post. "When we probed, there was a financial need. Some didn’t want to burden their family (with the costs). Some thought the $40 could be used for something else."

Over 700 students have been sponsored by the program, Business Insider reported, but 400 students are still left.

"Jennifer Pinnon recently received a sponsor, and she said she'll probably cry out of joy when they call her name at graduation and she'll be able to walk the stage," Business Insider reported.

Amy McDonald hails from sunny St. George, Utah, and is a graduate of BYU where she studied journalism, American studies and international development. She has written for The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Valley magazine and loves backpacking.

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