Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cheering At Graduation

I know there's a difference of opinion between whether graduation ceremonies are a solemn occasion for pride or a party festival. I, of course, lean more towards the former.

And I can understand when schools ask that people not hoot and holler so much when their student's name is called. Can you imagine being the family of the next child, the one whose name cannot be heard because of the air horns, cow bells, and screeches of some people who think the whole ceremony is about their own student?

Some might say, "don't read the next name until all the whooping has subsided". My school graduated over 300 students; given the time constraints of the auditorium we utilize for graduation (there was another graduation right after ours), there isn't time to do that. We have to read another name every few seconds.

Some schools experience this problem of "excessive exuberance" and ask people not to cheer, or to hold their applause until all graduates have walked across the stage. Some even put that request in writing. Still, some people ignore it completely.

So what do schools do then? They can't mandate class. They have to up the ante.

When Rock Hill school officials tell commencement crowds to hold their applause until the end, they mean it — police arrested seven people after they were accused of loud cheering during the ceremonies.

At first glance, that could seem pretty extreme. Even to me, that looked extreme. But let's read on:

"I just thought they were going to escort me out," Jonathan Orr told The Herald of Rock Hill, about 70 miles north of Columbia. "I had no idea they were going to put handcuffs on me and take me to jail."

Let me interpret what this 21-year-old man said. "I know how I was supposed to behave, but I didn't think there would be any real consequences for being obnoxious, so I did whatever I wanted anyway. And I thought that once I got away with it, they'd just kick me out--which is fine, because I'd already seen and done what I went there to see and do anyway." Selfish, rude, and needing to be knocked down a notch. With people like young Mr. Orr, I'm not surprised the school had police there.

Acting with dignity doesn't have to mean a funereal atmosphere at graduation, but let's remember that a graduation ceremony is not a football game.


jimvining said...

I'm from Rock Hill and agree with your comments - although - the Rock Hill Schools were not involved in this situation - it was schools using facilities located in Rock Hill.

Ronnie said...

At El Camino's graduation last year they escorted maybe 5-10 people out for excessive cheering. I understand making people leave, but arresting them is a little extreme. Sure it might make it run more efficiently, but as an audience member having to worry about serious consequences for something as subjective as cheering seems like an awful high price to pay.

Scott McCall said...

pretty soon....schools will just solve the problem entirely by canceling the ceremony all together.

aren't they lazy/strict enough to do that?

Ellen K said...

I admit that it's silly to expect folks not to cheer for their kids as they cross the stage, but I have also witnessed some truly outlandish behavior. At high school graduation, people had airhorns and balloons and crazy hats-they disrupted things for ten minutes, but the grads kept on coming. So for that ten minutes, many of the subsequent grads' families had no clue their kid had walked across the stage. Likewise at college graduation, a fraternity was very obnoxious with what sounded like barking every time a member walked across. What ever happened to class? *thinking of the Chicago musical song....*

Mrs. C said...

I liked your synopsis of the rude Mr. Orr. It's a shame things come to that, though.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

This type of behavior is why I no longer go to our middle school talent show - I'd love to see the kids perform, but it's ruined for me by the behavior of their friends and, especially, their parents. Borish, rude, loud and obnoxious is just a start.

SThom2112 said...

Personally, I considered my high school graduation a colossal waste of time, and still consider graduation to be one of the most overhyped, overrated events in one's life...but I'll leave that for now. I don't see a problem with this. Graduation is supposed to be a celebration, right?

The people who want it to be a funereal experience - whoops, sorry! - a "dignified ceremony", in the words of one particular grating H.S. teacher I knew, are often those, I suspect, for whom the experience is quasi-religious, and by and large those will be the educators.

Darren said...

So instead of being concerned with the parents who don't get to hear their own kid's name called because of the childish antics of others, you go for the cheap shot against me.


Oh, and for the record, I have no desire to attend any graduation until my own kid does. It's not about the *educators*, it's about the kids who are graduating. Some of you seem to forget that.