An Arizona high school student who spent his junior year battling leukemia did his best to make up the credits in his senior year and was elected student body president—but he still had to sit in the bleachers as the rest of his class graduated Thursday night. Stephen Dwyer, who had 12 chemotherapy treatments before a bone marrow transplant, is still 2.5 credits short of graduation requirements, and Dobson High School in Mesa said it couldn't bend the rules to allow him to wear a cap and gown and join the graduation ceremony, the Arizona Republic reports. Instead, he had to sit in the stands after leading the Class of 2016 onto the field, reports 12 News.
In a Facebook post, Dwyer says that after the isolation his illness caused, he's dismayed to have been excluded again. He says he would have been OK with not being given a diploma. "I just want to be a part of the ceremony as one of my peers would be," he writes. "I want to sit on the field in cap and gown, walk in the same line, and throw my cap in the air as we all celebrate what we have accomplished. I lost a lot of high school memories already and now I'm losing the final one." He adds that he hopes sharing his experience will help others in similar situations. In a statement, Mesa Public Schools described Dwyer as a "strong, courageous young man," but it said students who miss credits due to "personal hardships" don't get to take part in graduation ceremonies before they've earned their diplomas. (Read more leukemia stories.)