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Angry parents locked out of Clayton High School graduation

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Dozens of people were locked out of Clayton High School's graduation ceremony, even with valid tickets in hand. Dozens of people were locked out of Clayton High School's graduation ceremony, even with valid tickets in hand.
CLAYTON, N.C. -

Parents outside Clayton High School's graduation ceremony were in tears Friday night, but many of them said it was for all the wrong reasons.

Dozens of people were locked out of their loved one's graduation, even with tickets in hand.

Friday afternoon Clayton High School Principal Clint Eaves announced the ceremony would be moved off of the football field and into the school gym due to a threat of thunderstorms.

However because the gym holds much fewer people, parents of the 318 graduates were given four guaranteed tickets to get into the gym and seven extra tickets only good if the event was held outside.

But some parents who even had guaranteed tickets were still not allowed inside the gym. Instead, they were left standing in the parking lot while sheriff's deputies guarded the school's entrance.

"Here's the ticket right here and I still could not get in. I'm very disappointed, very upset," Traci Arrington said.

"It was just a moment that I can't even capture," Sharon Hudgins said of missing her son walk across the stage. "It's gone."

Others traveled long distance just to be locked out, including Marie Smith who flew in from Detroit.

"That's my first grandson and I can't get in their to see him," Smith said. "This is not fair."

Despite having valid tickets, Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones said parents were told that if they arrived late they would not be allowed inside the building as to not disrupt the ceremony.

"Once the seniors started walking, we did lock the doors and close the doors," Jones said. "But we do want to make sure we are being respectful because this is a momentous occasion and we do want to make sure our seniors are given that opportunity to be able to have their moment in the spotlight."

Jones also said the event was live-streamed in case some could not make it. That news was little consolation to family members stuck outside.

"There's nothing you can say," Catherine Woodard said. "You can't fix this. You can't fix it tomorrow, you can't fix it Monday. It's done and over with; it's a once in a lifetime thing and it's gone."

Parents also complained that Eaves would not come outside to talk with them during or after the ceremony. Jones said Eaves had to be on stage and was not aware that anyone wanted to talk with him afterward.

WNCN tried to contact Eaves but was not allowed inside the building.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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