Teens Can’t Pay Lunch Debt, So School Bans Them From Graduation — Until Stranger Donates $8,500

by Emerald Pellot
Emerald Pellot graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in Writing & Popular Culture. She worked as Senior Editor of College Candy for 2 years, covering feminism, popular culture, and college life before joining LittleThings in 2015. Based in New York City, Emerald covers a wide range of topics from human interest pieces to celebrity news.

Students at Sherman High School in Sherman, Texas, face serious consequences for their lunch debt. If a student has an unpaid lunch balance, they are not allowed to walk the stage at graduation or participate in year-end activities like field trips.

“They may get behind for whatever reason, and of course we want our kids to participate and be involved in the school,” Principal Chris Mogan told KXII.

Students like Marlee Russell shouldn’t have to worry about debt when they’re just trying to get a meal during a long school day. Moreover, they don’t want to be punished for not having enough money.

“It does pile up very quickly, in having friends, it’s very daunting to think about stuff like that,” Marlee said.

One local community member decided to do something about the situation. Jason Schilli, owner of Covenant Roofing, paid off every single student’s debt.

“I was really looking for a way that we could have an impact on the community and have a direct influence on so many students,” Jason said.

He donated $8,500 to clear the debt of every student in need. The donation means a whole lot to the students at Sherman High.

“Having the benefit of those fees being paid off I think is a wonderful way to give back to us,” Marlee said.

Jason just wants the kids to be able to be kids and get the most out of their learning environment.

“Take that stress or whatever they have to go through off their shoulders, and allow the kids to get the maximum benefit out of being in school,” Jason said. “We’re coming up on the end of the school year, let them have fun and be able to do all the things that they should be able to do.”

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