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Boy battling cancer graduates 8 grades in single day

First-grader Walter Herbert set an inspirational, land-speed record in academics Thursday by graduating through eight grades in a single school day while displaying high marks in the subject of bravery.

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Young Walter — appropriately nicknamed “Superbubz” — is battling cancer.

Despite ailing from his struggle with high-risk, Stage 4 neuroblastoma, the spirited 6-year-old, who attends Central Elementary, told his parents and teachers he wanted to experience graduating through all 12 grades.

His wish began to transform into reality Thursday morning as he sat in on classrooms of grades two through five at his school and later grades six through eight at Fairfield’s Creekside Middle School.

“He really just loves coming to school. He loves riding the bus and eating lunch at school,” said Central Principal Karrie Gallo, who has lead the school district’s efforts to honor Walter and his wishes.

She glances toward the back of her office door where hangs a miniature, personalized school graduation cap and gown Walter will soon wear.

“Walter has so much energy and so much life and he is so humble about all the things he has gotten to experience over the last couple of weeks,” Gallo said as her eyes watered up.

“He has really inspired the students in his (class)room to just be happy and to just enjoy the day-to-day things we all take for granted,” she said.

On Friday, he’ll attend Fairfield’s Freshman School and then high school grades ending his school day sitting for a short time in class with seniors.

His accelerated journey through the grades will end in a Friday evening graduation ceremony, where he’ll don his own cap and gown. Surrounded by family, friends, Central Elementary teachers and Fairfield district officials, Walter will be celebrated as a graduate of Fairfield Schools.

“The outpouring of support for Walter has been overwhelming,” said Fairfield Schools spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.

“Mrs. Gallo and her staff have worked extremely hard to make this milestone happen and we are fortunate to have such a giving community of students, staff and administrators who do whatever it takes to give our children such positive experiences,” said Gentry-Fletcher.

Gallo, who had the boy as a kindergarten student last year, hovered lovingly over Walter during each of his short visits to the different grades in her school. Lessons were altered and simplified so he could participate in small groups.

After about 20 minutes in each class, she and teachers presented Walter with a grade graduation certificate.

Second-grade teacher, Kim Eichhold, made sure Walter felt special while in her class and later marveled at the young student.

“He is the most wonderful boy. He is super friendly and he brings a smile to everyone’s face,” said Eichhold, who home-tutored Walter last school year on the days when he wasn’t healthy enough to make it to school.

The school’s principal deflects any credit shown her for honoring the young boy’s wishes.

Gallo said for her, teachers and others “this is just kind of our way of paying forward a little bit. So how could you not do this for the family?”

In recent weeks the Fairfield boy has become increasingly famous for his courage and grit.

Walter was recently celebrated in mid-game by Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto, who high-fived the Fairfield boy and handed him a signed baseball bat after homering.

On Friday he will share the practice field as a special guest of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Students disciplined for photo of them in white hoods with Confederate flag, burning cross

A group of Iowa high school students have been disciplined after a photo made the rounds on social media depicting them wearing white hoods and burning a cross in a field. 

The photo shows five young men, all wearing what appear to be white pillowcases fashioned into KKK-style hoods. One of the people in the picture holds a rifle and another waves what appears to be a Confederate flag.

A makeshift cross burns in the background of the photo, which caused shock and consternation on social media.

The Des Moines Register reported that Creston Community High School officials learned about the photo Wednesday morning. An investigation by the administration determined some of the school’s students were involved in the incident. 

Jeff Bevins, the school’s athletic director and assistant principal, declined to detail the discipline handed down to the students, who are minors, the Register said. Bevins did speak out about the behavior depicted in the photo. 

“That picture does not represent the beliefs of our school system, our parents, or our community,” Bevins told the newspaper

School officials have also spoken to other students at the school to ensure that they feel safe coming to school. Principal Bill Messerole told the Register that many students were upset by the photo.

“This certainly isn’t an issue that you just forget and move on,” Messerole said. “We want to make sure that it’s OK to have a dialogue about this.”

Messerole said that the students know the picture is not an accurate representation of what the school, or the community, stands for. 

One Creston High football player anonymously reached out to WHO Channel 13 in Des Moines to defend his teammates, indicating that at least some of the students involved were football players. 

“As a current student at Creston and a member of the football team, I would just like to make a statement,” the teen’s statement read. “The five individuals that were involved with the picture are clearly in the wrong, and they will face the consequences eventually. But I can promise everyone that as a whole, our football team and community aren't about that. The actions made by a small group shouldn't represent the entire football team and community. I'm proud to be a part of what this team is actually about, and it's sad to see something like this ruin a rich tradition we carry.”

>> Read more trending news

There was a similar reaction from some on Facebook, where at least one man defended the school and the community. 

“I saw some comments that are calling the entire school and community racist, (and) I take issue with that,” Allen Bean wrote. “Having had the opportunity to do some volunteer work at Creston High School on several occasions, I saw firsthand the love and care they have for all students. I condemn those that are involved and think they deserve severe punishment, but let’s be careful labeling this school and its community.”

In the meantime, a Drake University law professor told the Register that he believes school officials overreached in their discipline of the students. 

“This is a significant free speech issue,” Mark Kende told the newspaper. “If they’re off school grounds and they’re doing it in their free time and they’re not targeting someone in school, then this is a form of expressive speech.”

Kende explained that, according to Iowa law, hate speech is only a criminal offense if it specifically targets someone. 

The professor told the Register that the students, if involved in extracurricular activities, may have been required to sign statements saying they would refrain from behavior that would reflect poorly on them and the school. The Constitution’s guarantee of free speech could override those statements, however. 

“The school district’s going to have an issue,” Kende said. “The issue is complicated by the fact that the school is reaching beyond its typical school orders to penalize them.”

Principal accused of luring girls online for sex, reports say

A man who previously worked as a principal at school districts in Austin, Westlake and Round Rock, Texas, has been arrested in Arizona after law enforcement accused him of soliciting young girls for sex, the Phoenix-area Pinal County sheriff’s office said.

>> Read more trending news

Karl Waggoner was arrested Tuesday near Four Peaks Elementary School, the Phoenix-area school where he had just begun his job as principal this summer, the Sheriff’s Office said. Waggoner is charged with luring a minor for sex, Arizona records show.

Waggoner spent nine years as West Ridge Middle School’s principal in the Eanes school district before he was reassigned to be Westlake High School’s assistant principal in 2012. He worked for a time as Anderson High School’s associate principal, and in 2014, the Round Rock school district hired him to be Hopewell Middle School’s principal until 2016, when the Round Rock district named him the associate director of administrative projects.

>> Teacher accused of sex with students in cemetery sentenced

Authorities said they found online ads believed to have been posted by Waggoner soliciting young girls to go skinny dipping with him at his home, the Sheriff’s Office said. After finding this, a Pinal County Sheriff's Office detective conducted an undercover investigation, pretending to be a 14-year-old girl, and began communicating with Waggoner.

Waggoner engaged in "sexually inappropriate conversations" and "discussed engaging in sexual acts" with the undercover detective and provided sexually explicit photos, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office in Arizona is working with Texas law enforcement agencies to investigate whether Waggoner may have committed similar acts there, the sheriff’s office said.

>> Teacher accused of sex with student, having child with him

Waggoner is still an employee with the Arizona school district but is not performing any job duties for the district while the investigation continues, the Arizona school district wrote in a letter to parents. An assistant principal at a nearby school will take over Waggoner’s job.

“Even up until this weekend, Mr. Waggoner was posting ads online soliciting young girls for sex,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a statement. “Waggoner held a position of trust, spending decades educating middle and high school students in Texas. We are working with those law enforcement agencies to see if there are any victims out there. Considering the evidence, we are grateful we were able to arrest Waggoner and keep him from victimizing children in our county.”

Parents upset about KKK hood prank at high school 

Parents in New Mexico said they are upset about a doctored photo that circulated on social media last week, in which white hoods associated with the Ku Klux Klan were added to students' heads.

Parents said the doctored photo was of a class of juniors at Volcano Vista High School. All but three students received the white hood treatment in the photo; the three students who did not are black, parents said.

>> Read more trending news 

Mary Morrow-Webb, the mother of one of the black students, told KOAT that the photo was appalling and disgusting.

While the principal sent a note home to parents calling the prank "repugnant and hateful," parents feel the students who doctored the photo and shared it on social media deserve punishment beyond the suspensions they received. Morrow-Webb told KOAT she views the incident not as a prank, but as a hate crime.

Student spends thousands after accidentally given $1M in financial aid

A university student in South Africa received an extraordinary amount of financial aid by mistake -- $1 million worth -- and spent more than $60,000 of it before authorities realized the error, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

The mistake occurred at Walter Sisulu University. The $1 million was accidentally loaded onto the student’s financial aid debit card. It was supposed to be a $100 stipend for food and books and immediately available to the student, according to Intellimali, the company responsible for issuing the student debit cards. Four zeros were added to the direct deposit, CNN reported.

Another student, who noticed the woman’s suddenly extravagant spending habits, alerted university officials. Intellimali and university officials claim the student spent tens of thousands of dollars in a few weeks, and are now examining her transaction records to determine the total amount, CNN reported.

The student’s account has been blocked and the remaining balance has been retracted, CNN reported.

In compliance with South African law, university officials declined to release the student's personal details but have confirmed she is not responding to media inquiries and has made no official statement, CNN reported. A formal investigation has begun and Intellimali officials said they would take legal action against the student for misappropriation of funds.

WATCH: Woman pulls gun during school supply shopping dispute at Walmart

A Michigan woman pulled out a gun over a school supply shopping dispute at Walmart, police said.

The incident took place Monday at a Walmart in Novi, Michigan. Novi Police Det. Scott Baetens told WJBK that the dispute was over a notebook in the back-to-school aisle. There was only one notebook left, and two shoppers were attempting to claim it when a verbal argument turned into pushing and shoving, and ultimately, one woman pulling out a gun, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Customers and staff scattered after the gun was brandished, as can be seen in video capturing the chaotic scene shared by a bystander.

The woman who pulled out the gun carries a concealed pistol license valid in the state of Michigan, police said. The gun was loaded, but there was no round in the chamber, WJBK reported.

The four women involved in the incident, who range in age from 20 to 51, could face charges, police said. An investigation is ongoing.

It's not clear who got the notebook, authorities said.

Maryland private school bans Washington Redskins gear, citing ‘racial slur’

A Bethesda, Maryland, private school has made a decision about the Washington Redskins’ NFL logo and team name, saying it “feels profoundly at odds with (its) community’s mission and values.” 

>> Read more trending news

The Green Acres School website posted a pop-up letter from the head of school that announces that any and all Washington Redskins gear will be banned from the school premises heading forward.

In the lengthy letter, Head of School Neal M. Brown said third-graders and sixth-graders raising questions in class were the impetus behind moving forward on a long-time internal discussion.

The letter reads, in part, as follows:

“Last year, our community engaged in thoughtful and open discussions about the wearing of the Washington professional football team logo and the use of the term “Redskins” on campus. We first talked about it in the Staff Diversity Committee, then as a full staff, then with all of our Middle School students, and finally with several parents who joined members of the administration and the Inclusion and Diversity Committee. Students in grade 3 also raised the issue during their study of Native Americans, and then they and the 6th graders engaged in a discussion of ethnically and/or racially–derived sports team logos as part of last year’s celebration of MLK Day. “... The term ‘Redskin’ is a racial slur. Its use, whether intentional or not, can be deeply insulting and offensive. It is a term that demeans a group of people. Similarly, the team’s logo also can reasonably be viewed as racially demeaning. At best, the image is an ethnic stereotype that promotes cultural misunderstanding; at worst, it is intensely derogatory.”

Brown asserted that Green Acres is “an inclusive and uplifting community” that “welcome(s) people of any race, national or ancestral origin.”

“We cannot continue to allow children or staff members --however well intentioned -- to wear clothing that disparages a race of people,” he wrote.

Also on the website, the school describes itself as committed to the “principles of progressive education and to ongoing exploration of what this means in the 21st century.” The school teaches kids as young as 3 years old and as advanced as the eighth grade.

After the decision was made and the news got wind of it, Brown spoke with Fox 5 DC about his rationale.

He said that the football team name and logo, in his view, violated the school’s mission and diversity statement by being “at best ... an ethnic stereotype” and “At worst ... deeply demeaning.”

Green Acres School has been around in 1934. It was the first racially-integrated school in Montgomery County, Maryland.

High school secretary fired for changing grades sues district, alleges discrimination

A high school secretary in Memphis who was fired for changing grades is suing the school district, alleging discrimination.

Shirley Quinn, who worked at Trezevant High School, is claiming the men involved in the grading scandal were able to keep their jobs.

She said she was fired because she's an older woman.

Quinn said last month that she simply did what she was told when she worked in the main office at Trezevant High School. 

“A teacher, if they asked me to change a grade, I would. That's what I did. I changed grades. That was my job, in my job description,” said Quinn. 

Shelby County Schools found grade discrepancies at the school in the fall of 2016. 

>> Read more trending news 

The district investigated four employees, including Quinn, head football Coach Teli White and two other male coaches. 

“When I walked in the door, I felt like they were out to get me. There was nothing I could say,” said Quinn. 

Quinn alleged in the lawsuit that she was treated differently than the others involved.

"Despite the fact that the investigation is 'ongoing,' Ms. Quinn is the only employee who was prematurely terminated from her position," the lawsuit said.

"All of the similarly situated young male employees have retained their employment with Shelby County Schools," the lawsuit contended.

“We did an extensive investigation, and (were) only able to document one person. That one person was Shirley Quinn," said Dorsey Hopson, the district’s superintendent.

Hopson said the investigation in the fall of 2016 only connected grade changes to Quinn's computer.

“Although we thought there had to be more, but in the spirit of due process, just because you think somebody did something, you have a strong, sneaky suspicion somebody did something, you can't act on them,” said Hopson. 

Quinn was fired before Ronnie Mackin penned his explosive resignation letter, which launched new investigations into the district’s grading practices.

In the lawsuit, Quinn demanded to be reinstated and to be reimbursed for lost wages and benefits.

A Shelby County Schools spokesperson said Friday that the district is unaware of the lawsuit, which was filed three days ago at Shelby County Circuit Court.

South Carolina principal backs off ‘leggings’ comments

A South Carolina high school principal said she did not intend to “hurt or offend” any students with comments she reportedly made during an assembly earlier this week, WCIV reported.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement issued by the Berkeley County School District, Stratford High School Principal Heather Taylor said she has met with students to address a comment she made during a 10th-grade assembly on Tuesday, and to assure the students she is "one of their biggest fans and invested in their success.”

Taylor did not specify what she said during the assembly, but WCDB reported that she said girls “look fat” in leggings unless they are a size zero or 2. In a recording obtained by WCDB, a woman alleged to be Taylor tells students that leggings are not meant to be worn as pants alone, and that they “show everything” when worn that way.

“The sad thing is with that, ladies — if someone has not told you this before, I'm going to tell you this now — unless you are a size zero or a two, and you wear something like that, even though you are not fat, you look fat,” the woman said in the recording, WCIV reported.

“I’m not a size zero and I kind of felt targeted because of my size,” said Allison Veazey, a sophomore at Stratford.

Others posted angry replies on Facebook, WCIV reported.

"I hope your comment about the kids weight didn't push them over to committing unthinkable actions," Facebook user AJ Lorinchack said, according to WCIV. "You are responsible for all of the kids that go to your school. Due to your poor choice of words you may have instilled a lot of horrible things in the student community.”

“This is absolutely appalling. Shame on you for body shaming,” said Facebook user April Doane-Diaz, who claimed to be a Stratford graduate.

Other posters on Facebook came out in support of Taylor, WCIV reported.

"This is actually ridiculous," Carlos Hernandez said. “A bunch of Facebook moms with nothing better to do than to flame probably Stratford's best principal yet. … If you want to actually change something, go to the school board. This is just petty.”

'Jews vs. Nazis' beer pong game gets students suspended, expelled

Students from an Atlanta private school are facing disciplinary action after a photo posted online shows them playing a game of "Jews vs. Nazis" beer pong at an off-campus house party.

>> Watch the news report here

WSB-TV confirmed that the photo shows students of the Lovett School playing the game earlier this month.

The picture clearly shows cups filled with beer in the shape of a Jewish star on one side of the table and a Nazi swastika on the other.

>> Teacher fired for allegedly 'dragging' kindergartner across gym

Five students were suspended and the student who set up the game and took the photo was expelled after Rabbi Peter Berg alerted the elite prep school's head master of the incident.

“The fact that someone could even conceive of such a game, and then play it and think it’s funny is beyond words,” Berg said.

>> CEO: Apple to donate $2 million to anti-hate groups

Lovett School leaders would not speak to WSB-TV on camera but a spokesperson sent us an email saying in part: "Character education is at the heart of all we do at Lovett, and we deeply appreciate the individuals and organizations across our community who are helping us to continue to learn and grow from this very troubling incident."

>> KKK's request to burn cross on Stone Mountain denied

This all comes the same time the Anti-Defamation League reports a significant spike in cases of anti-Semitism in metro Atlanta and around the country.

The ADL reports an 86 percent spike in cases of anti-Semitism, schools included. Berg sees the Lovett School Nazi beer pong case as an opportunity.

>> Read more trending news

"We as a community, as a country, have to get our hands and wrap our hands around the problem of hate speech in general, to understand how horrifying that image is to Jewish people," Berg said.

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