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Barbershop owner raises money to pay off high school fees blocking 14 students' graduation

A North Carolina barbershop owner raised more than $4,000 to pay off the school fees that prevented 14 seniors from graduating.

Season Bennett, owner of Charlotte’s Headlines Barbershop, was inspired by Robert F. Smith’s recent pledge to pay off the student debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class. When she learned 14 high school seniors may not graduate, she decided to do something.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that is just such a powerful thing for anybody,’” Bennett told local outlet WBTV, referring to Smith’s generous grant. “So many students go into so much debt just trying to get an education.”

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Bennett organized a community fundraiser that covered the $4,500 in unpaid fees for 14 seniors from East Mecklenburg High School. The school district has a policy to not let students graduate if they have outstanding debt.

“You need to get at least your high school diploma,” Bennett said while explaining her reasoning behind the decision to pay the students’ debt.

Bennett said donations from the community, as well as one from Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, helped her raise the money.

She said some of the debt the students accrued came from their involvement in the school band.

“I know some people were thinking ‘Oh, maybe there was damaged property,’ or these kinds of things, and I said, ‘These kids are doing something good, they’re on the band, they’re having school spirit,’” she said.