A student was barred from graduation for his shoes. So a teacher gave him the pair off his feet.
via John Butler / Facebook

Daverius Peters, 18, must have felt like he was wandering through a nightmare on May 19 when he was refused entry to his high school graduation. He was dressed in his cap and gown, ready to receive his diploma in front of his proud family when he was stopped at the front door for a dress code violation.

"She said my shoes violated the dress code and I couldn't attend the ceremony unless I changed them," Peters, a senior at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana, told The Washington Post.

Male students were instructed to wear dark-colored dress shoes to the ceremony. Peter wore black leather sneakers with white soles. "I thought I could wear them because they're black," he said.



After being barred from being admitted to one of the most important events of his young life, he went outside to figure out a solution. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough time to buy a new pair of shoes.

He paced nervously in front of the gym until he spotted John Butler, a paraeducator at the school for the past two years. Peters explained the situation to Butler and he couldn't believe what he heard.

"Of course, that sounded crazy to me," said Butler. "There was nothing eccentric about his shoes."

"In total disbelief I go down to confirm," Butler later recalled on Facebook. "And sure enough she tells me the same thing. So then it becomes a no brainer to me, a no more questions asked scenario," he wrote.

So Butler gave Peters the shoes off his feet and he was allowed back into the ceremony. The funny part is that Butler wears a size 11, and Peters, a size nine, so he looked a little clumsy while walking on stage to get his diploma.

The new shoes caught the attention of his mother, Jima Smith. "Wait a minute, whose shoes does he have on?" Smith recalled telling her family. "We were all confused."

Her other son noted there was a man in the audience who had no shoes and they put two and two together.

After the ceremony, Peters returned his loafers to Butler and he wasn't shocked by the educator's generosity. "I wasn't surprised because Mr. Butler is that type of person," Peters said. "At school, if you're having a bad day, he'll be the one to take you out of class, walk around the school with you and talk to you."

Butler later posted a photo of the type of shoes Peters wore to the ceremony and they could easily be mistaken for dress shoes.


Butler is having a meeting soon with school officials to discuss its graduation dress code.

"Something that small shouldn't rob a kid from experiencing this major moment," said Butler. "It's something that needs to be thoroughly discussed."

Butler's quick thinking and sacrifice won't soon be forgotten by Peters' mother.

"He gave the shoes off his own feet to my child," Smith said. "That says a lot about what type of man he is."

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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