Ashley Grady may have missed out on one of the biggest days of her life when she was turned away from the Memorial High School graduation last week, but New Hampshire Motor Speedway has since offered her the chance of a lifetime.
On July 17, Grady will walk across the finish line main stage before the start of the Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR race, an event that draws about 100,000 spectators from across the country.
Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, said he extended an invitation to Grady, through Mayor Ted Gatsas' office, after seeing the front-page New Hampshire Union Leader story about her graduation mix-up.
“I said we can give her a graduation like none other at the speedway,” said Gappens. “We reached out to Mayor Gatsas to have her own graduation celebration in front of the largest crowd in all of New England.”
Last week Grady was unable to walk with her graduating class because a school record mix-up showed that she didn't have the credits needed to graduate. After the ceremony, however, an investigation into her records showed that she actually did have the credits needed all along. Grady and her family showed up to the Verizon Wireless Arena for the ceremony, but Grady was turned away in her cap and gown.
“I know high school graduation is one of those life events, not only for the student but also for the family,” said Gappens. “She should be rewarded. She shouldn't be penalized because of a computer or a human error.”
Gappens said this will be the first graduation ceremony held at the speedway.
“I know NASCAR fans. When they hear the story I guarantee she'll get a standing ovation,” said Gappens.