JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman is making sure students at her alma mater can participate in their high school graduation.
Students without a cap and gown cannot walk at graduation, but with that comes a cost.
Angie McDaniel — who graduated from Ribault High in 1995 — is helping pay for students to get their caps and gowns at two schools in Duval County: Jean Ribault High School and Raines High School.
Graduation for the roughly 300 seniors at her alma mater is scheduled for May 31 and McDaniel wants to make sure all of the students can be part of the commencement exercises.
Related: Meet one of the first Black students to attend Ribault High School in Jacksonville
“You go to school for 13 years including kindergarten, and I just wanted to show that our kids can walk with their class,” she said. Because you cannot walk if you do not pay for your cap and gown. I just want to make sure that all kids succeed, the best I can.”
McDaniel started a non-profit nearly three years ago called Single Moms Impacting Lives Everywhere.
One of the resources within her charity is called the “Glad Grad” program. McDaniel pays for caps and gowns for students who are not able to afford them.
“I come in at the last minute, find out who has not paid for their caps and gowns, and then I pay the balance,” she said.
Dr. Gregory D. Bostic is the principal at Ribault High School.
He says this program is needed. It is not to shame anyone and there is a method to prevent people from abusing well-intended assistance.
“Sometimes we do not know the need to work parents may have,” Bostic said. “They may have lost their jobs or not making enough money to care for the household. This is a huge impact and is very needed. It is not announced. But when students come to us, or parents come to us, and say that they really want their student to walk and participate in graduation, they express what they can, and cannot afford. Then we will sit down and take notes and see what we can come up with.”
This is the second year McDaniel has offered this help at Ribault High.
It is her first time helping not too far away at Raines High School. She dropped a check off to the school for $1,000 Thursday with more money expected on the way.
McDaniel raises this money through fundraisers across the country.
“It is an amazing feeling to help others,” McDaniel said. “I wish more people would do so.”
McDaniel says her vision is to expand this program and make it accessible to every school in Jacksonville.