RICH TOWNSHIP, Ill. — Parents and students of a south suburban high school are upset after the school distributed more than 600 graduation stoles to seniors with the word ‘graduate’ misspelled on them.
What makes matters worse is that the mistake wasn’t noticed until after some students walked went through with their graduation ceremonies.
Yasir Bilal, a newly graduated student from Rich Township High School (RTHS), described the moment when his family noticed the gaffe as he walked across the stage, pointing out that the word ‘graduate’ was spelled ‘gradutate.’
“They could have checked before [the ceremony], because they made 600-plus,” Bilal said. “And all of them were spelled wrong.”
In a letter to community members, RTHS admitted they never checked the stoles beforehand, and said they are trying to make amends by photoshopping the misspelled word from graduation pictures.
The letter reads as follows:
“Dear Rich Township Class of 2023 Graduating Seniors and Families:Rich Township High School – Communications Department
“We are reaching out today to address an issue that has affected our recent
graduates. We understand the importance of graduation, a significant milestone
that should be celebrated without such mishaps. Regrettably, there was an error
in the graduation sashes provided to us by our vendor, Herff Jones. This mistake
went unnoticed until the sashes were distributed, and the graduates had already
walked the stage, and for that, we sincerely apologize.
“We have worked diligently with Herff Jones to resolve this matter promptly.
We have already received replacement sashes with the correct spelling and will
be mailing those along with the diplomas later in June. Furthermore, we have
reached out to the graduation photographer to ensure that the pictures taken will
not be affected by this error. They are in the process of photoshopping all
pictures. We will be sending out communication when those pictures are
available for purchase.
“In addition, we want to assure all families that we are taking steps to prevent
such mistakes in the future. This includes strengthening our quality control
“Finally, we want to take a moment to commend our graduates. Despite this
hiccup, their achievements and resilience this year remain our primary focus.
We are incredibly proud of them, and we look forward to celebrating their
“We sincerely thank all families for their understanding and patience as we
worked through this situation.”
Parents still expressed frustrations, including one who talked to WGN that said the damage is done.
“We’re terribly disappointed and appalled about how they would even pass those out to the students,” said a parent who spoke to WGN’s Julian Crews. “That would embarrass the community, the families, and even the school district should be embarrassed.”
The vendor who manufactured and supplied the stoles to RTHS students issued an apology Wednesday, taking full responsibility for the mistake.
The statement reads as follows:
“On behalf of the entire Herff Jones team, I want to express our sincere apologies for theRon Stoupa – President, Herff Jones
incorrect stoles that may have hindered your graduation experience. We understand the
disappointment you are experiencing at the culmination of your education and the
frustration this created for all involved.
“Herff Jones has a long-standing tradition of celebrating achievement, and we take great
pride in walking alongside you to help recognize hard work and commitment. We regret
that the products you received were not in line with the quality and standard you
“Although it does not remedy the outcome, we have credited the entire invoice in full
and your graduates will receive the correct stole to keep as a memento.
“Again, we apologize that you did not receive the service you deserve and that Herff
Jones typically delivers. We value our customers and would appreciate your
consideration in the future should you have a need for regalia or other school items
“Congratulations on this significant achievement and best of luck in your future