Singer Alicia Keys has partnered up with Ellen DeGeneres in order to reward the teen who got banned from graduating after he refused to cut his dreadlocks.
18-year-old DeAndre Arnold appeared on The Ellen Show after he went viral for refusing to cut his dreadlocks despite his school’s threats to ban him from graduating.
According to the Barbers Hill High School, Arnold, who wasn’t confronted by the school about his hair before, was told he wouldn’t be allowed to graduate unless he cuts his long hair that is allegedly contradicting their dress code.
“There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” Greg Poole, the school district’s superintendent, claimed.
During the show, Ellen applauded the teen for standing up for himself and pleaded with the school to reconsider their decision to ban Arnold from graduating.
“I am begging you… this kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids. He’s a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing,” she said.
The showrunner has also praised the boy for “standing up for what you know is right.”
“I couldn’t believe the story when I heard it. I’m super proud of you for standing up for what you know is right,” she said before inviting surprise guest Alicia Keys to join them on the stage.
Alicia presented the young man with a $20,000 donation from photography business Shutterfly and revealed the company wanted to support his love for animals and help him become a veterinarian.
“I’ve always loved animals, everything about animals, just their sense of loyalty, companionship, you can’t get that anywhere else,” Arnold previously said.
Speaking of his current situation at the school, the 18-year-old added:
“If I go back to school tomorrow, my only options are in-school suspension or alternative school,” something that happens to students who “have behavioral issues, sell drugs, fight all the time.”
“Like, I wish the best for them, and I know they have good qualities in them, but I don’t deserve to be grouped with them. I worked for this all my life. I’ve strived for this. I deserve this moment to walk across that stage and enter into life. My parents deserve this.”
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