News 12 at 11 o'clock, May 25, 2007
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---Graduation fees are preventing one North Augusta teenager from graduating from high school, and school officials say they are justified in holding Bradon Widener's diploma.
But his future military career could be put on hold as well.
Timothy and Lynnette Widener say they've paid more than $500 dollars for Bradon's graduation supplies, but North Augusta school officials say they never got the money, and until it's paid, he won't get his diploma.
"He's been an A/B honor roll student since grade 4," Timothy Widener said. "He's never had one disciplinary problem in school. He's been in ROTC."
"It hurts very much, because he's worked so hard," Lynnette said.
"He changed schools November of last year from Silver Bluff to North Augusta," Timothy said.
And that is where the problem begins. Timothy says they paid the graduation supply company last year before they moved. They even showed us proof of only a $30 balance.
The wideners got three notices from the company: two from the Silver Bluff order and one from North Augusta.
But the first is from last November, and the two others are nine days apart, with different balances.
"We've talked to everybody," Timothy said. "We've been on the phone five, six times a day, five days a week for the past three weeks."
Some of that payment was for Bradon's class ring, which he now wears proudly. But both Wideners say they've tried desperately to get the matter cleared for a much bigger reason: without proof of a high school diploma, Bradon can't fulfill his dream of joining the Marine Corps.
Bradon's already sworn in under the delayed entry program.
"I talked to him yesterday and told him I was going to get it," Bradon said. "I thought we had gotten it straight and then they called with that stuff today."
"I'm trying to keep Bradon's morale up, because he wants that diploma and they won't give it to him," Lynnette said.
"He's been an example to his peers. He's been an example to his younger brothers and sisters," Timothy said. "He's a better man than I am."
"The only thing we want is for him to get his diploma," Lynnette said.
"We feel like he's being robbed," said Timothy.
"Nothing really I can do until they get it fixed, because we done done everything we can do," Bradon said.
News 12 talked to the school principal, and he says the Widener family has until next Friday, which is graduation, to pay those fees.
The family says they are not giving up hope that this matter will be cleared up.