POLAND — On Sunday, ShaiAne Belinski will graduate from high school. A month later, she’ll report to the U.S. Army in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. She thought she could wear her Army sash to graduation to mark the end of one era and the beginning of another.

She was wrong.

Regional School Unit 16 officials say the dress code at Poland Regional High School does not allow the wearing of military sashes, although they are allowed to adorn their caps any way they’d like.

As far as Belinski is concerned, it’s not fair. Her commitment to the Army compelled her to succeed in school and she had visions of commemorating that fact with her sash.

“It’s upsetting,” Belinski told WGME on Tuesday. “I worked really hard this year. My motivation has been the Army. In order to get into the Army, you have to have a diploma.”

On Wednesday, she met with school officials to discuss the matter. She was told that ultimately, the choice of whether she’ll wear the sash — deep green with the Army logo — was hers to make.

RSU 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve pointed out that the tradition of graduating students wearing school-supplied gowns and caps had been in effect for 14 years, as long as there has been a Poland Regional High School.

“The idea is to create a unified graduating body, celebrating the accomplishments of their four years together,” Meserve said. “Honor sashes issued by the school are allowed, but they can’t wear outside-issued accessories.”

The tradition, however, isn’t cast in stone and the school has a process for making changes. A student can take a request for a rule change to the student representative body, Meserve said.

The merits of the request are researched, examined with an eye to considering the consequences of the proposed change and voted upon.

If approved, the request is forwarded to the faculty leadership team for concurring approval.

“It became a timing issue,” Meserve said, “ShaiAne brought her request to the school last Friday. There just wasn’t enough time for careful consideration.”

Meserve noted that the school’s whole graduation program is run by students, each June’s efforts beginning in October, and that discussion of this change could surface in the fall.

Meserve said she met with Belinski on Wednesday afternoon and told her that if she decides to wear the military sash, she would not be prevented from walking with her classmates.

“I also said, ‘I hope you will respect our rules and processes, and I hope you won’t wear it,'” Meserve said. “She’s a good young lady and we’re proud of her and the others entering the military.”

According to Belinski’s mother, ShaiAne has agreed to abide by the school rules, if only to avoid further controversy.

“She is disappointed, at best,” said Tina Kelly, Belinski’s mother. “She has decided that as an Army soldier, she will do what is expected of her and abide by the school’s wishes so that she isn’t stirring any trouble for her recruiters or for the Army name.”

Kelly added, “She has worked super hard this year so that she could follow through with her Army goals, and just wants to be able to wear that accomplishment with pride, just as any other student who will be wearing their sashes, stoles or ropes.”

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