MONT BELVIEU, Texas — DeAndre Arnold – the Mont Belvieu teen who was told he wouldn’t be able to walk at his graduation unless he cuts his hair – was given a $20,000 check during his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres show.
Arnold, 18, was invited on the show after his story made national headlines when he and his family addressed the Barbers Hill ISD school board about his suspension from walking at his high school graduation because of his dreadlocks.
Ellen told Arnold that she didn't understand why his school wasn't allowing him to walk because of the length of his hair, especially because girls are allowed to have long hair at the school.
Arnold has not been to school for a couple of weeks because he refuses to cut his hair. He told Ellen if he was to return to school he would either have do in-school suspension or go to alternative school, which is a program for students with behavioral issues.
Arnold said the biggest reason why he refuses to cut his hair is because his locks are a representation of his Trinidadian culture.
Arnold really wants the chance to walk across the stage at graduation, not only because he feels he deserves too, but because it would be an exciting moment for his parents.
“I deserve this moment to walk across stage and enter into life," Arnold told Ellen. "My parents deserve this. They deserve to see me walk across the stage.”
At one moment in the show, Ellen looked in a camera and pleaded with Arnold's school to let him walk across the stage.
“I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids, he’s a good guy. I’m just urging you to do the right thing. Please. Change your mind," Ellen said.
Of course Ellen had a surprise up her sleeve for Arnold.
Before his segment was over, Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys appeared on stage and surprised him with a $20,000 check to go towards his college tuition.
“I couldn’t believe the story and I am super proud of you for standing up for what is right,” said Alicia Keys.
Arnold wants to go to school to be a veterinarian.
Author: Chloe Alexander, TEGNA