For Malachi Wattley, punishment for dreads lead to higher purpose

Malachi was kicked out of school for not cutting his dreads in 2017.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:21 PM EST
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SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) - In 2017, Malachi Wattley was told to cut his dreads or be expelled from Central Catholic High School. Those dreads though, to Malachi were a part of his cultural heritage.

Malachi’s family is from the Virgin Islands where long dreads are associated with strength. He says, “it’s one of the biggest beliefs we practice.”

Malachi remembers his last day of school like it was yesterday.

“They called the police to come up there and escort me out of school and I’m not even a troublesome kid,” he recalls, years later.

Instead of allowing the incident to make him bitter, the painful situation pushed Malachi toward a higher purpose. He left Central Catholic and enrolled in the TPS Aerospace and Natural Science Academy. The top-notch program offers aviation certifications for students across the region. It is here that Malachi realized he wanted to become a pilot and just days before his 18th birthday he realized that dream, becoming a licensed private pilot.

“My first flight was the first spark,” he says. “It’s a different spark for everybody. Some people get scared when it happens, but I loved it.”

“We are happy that Malachi is thriving as a pilot, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” Central Catholic leaders tell 13abc. The school has new leadership and no longer has a policy on dreads.

Malachi holds no anger in his heart, it’s all love.

“It just made me a better person and it taught me more about life,” he says.

Malachi is now on a new journey and he couldn’t be happier with the view. He has been accepted into 30 different colleges and is actively looking for scholarship opportunities. He hopes to get his commercial pilot license next.

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