Published November 20, 2015
Army recruit ShaiAne Belinski says she won’t be wearing a military sash to her high school graduation Sunday because her school won’t allow it.
Belinski tells WGME that she is hurt, confused and disappointed. An Army recruiter gave her the sash to wear to mark her enlistment, and she planned to wear it during her graduation from Poland Regional High School, in Maine.
"It's upsetting,” Belinski told the station. “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."
Regional School Unit 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal that only honor sashes issued by the school are allowed.
According to the newspaper, Meserve met with Belinski Wednesday afternoon and told her if she decides to wear the military sash, she would not be prevented from walking with her classmates. Poland grads can adorn their caps any way they like.
"I also said, 'I hope you will respect our rules and processes, and I hope you won't wear it,'" Meserve told the newspaper. "She's a good young lady and we're proud of her and the others entering the military."
Tina Kelly, Belinski's mother, said ShaiAne is planning to leave the sash at home to avoid further controversy.
"She is disappointed, at best," Kelly said. "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."
Belinksi reports to basic training next month at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.