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Greg Farr


You might find a post on my blog relevant to this:


It's an obituary on the death of common sense.

Kelly Christopherson

I could not believe this when I read it but then, I've been witness to a few really questionable acts by school officials over the years where you were left shaking your head with the "huh?" look. For the record, the whole group of adults who are involved should be ashamed of themselves. This has nothing to do with "a solemn occasion" but has to do with power. We have it and we'll use it. Sadly, it is all too common with people in power positions using the position to demonstrate they have power instead of showing that they are there for the good of the children. And we wonder why people aren't all behind schools? Yeesh!

Scott McLeod

This is on behalf of a university professor who asked me to post for him:

As a former HS principal, now university instructor, I dealt with the rowdy graduation behavior and other disturbing aspects of commencement by educating students and parents about proper conduct at a ceremony. Prior to graduation, I addressed students in two groups of about 150 and parents via mail. I explained that there is a difference between a ceremony and a celebration and used a wedding as an analogy. For the ceremony, which has a long and rich tradition of dress, music, and demeanor, I expected proud, mature behavior. The celebration that followed the ceremony was a combination of family dinners and our parent-run, all night, lock-in party. I did not penalize students for the misconduct of audience members but rather limited the number of tickets and placed non-uniformed, "ushers" throughout the seating area and gowned faculty at the end of each row of grads as honor guards. Attendance at commencement for students was voluntary and considered a priviledge. Expectations were set high and education was used to facilitate their attainment. Our graduation ceremonies were a pleasure. Today's solution can easily become tomorrow's problem if we are not careful with our decisions.

Scott McLeod

Here's another one, from a principal that wished to remain anonymous:

Interesting!! My son graduated yesterday from one of our three high schools. Before the awarding of diplomas, the principal very politely and appropriately asked families NOT to celebrate loudly after their child was announced, as it then doesn’t allow the next family to hear their child’s name being called, and we need to all be respectful of each other’s families. This was also posted in the graduation program.

However, during the ceremony many families began to cheer loudly for their student, to the point that it almost became a competition. I, myself, thought it was rude behavior and sent the wrong message to the students (despite what the principal says, we are going to publicly not follow the request) and left the graduates whose parents respected the request without cheers. However, it wasn’t until the woman behind me said loudly, “I sure hope my son isn’t sitting next to a Black person so I can hear his name. Why are they being so rude?” that I became more aware of the situation and the unintended consequences the behaviors of the parents were creating for some people (most of the families were Black/African American).

So, what is the solution? When principals ask that the behavior stop many honor the request while others boldly do not. Do we say go for it, but then will the competition become so out of control that graduations will take forever? I’m not sure it is an issue we can overcome. With over 500 students graduating yesterday and the need to keep the ceremony to under 90 minutes (all three high schools use the same facility during the day) my son’s school did an excellent job. Teachers waited, as much as possible, to announce the next student’s name until the cheering subsided. I just wish we could do something to eliminate the biases and frustration it created within the parent group.

Mike Waiksnis

As a former high school assistant principal this is something we always had to deal with. The old saying goes something like, "We can trust the kids to behave, but what about the audience?" It really is a tough line to walk--we need to make sure each name can be heard when announced, but what can we really do? The only options do seem a bit harsh--withhold diploma, etc...When I was at the high school level (I am currently an AP at a middle school)we did everything we could to plan and attempt to prevent unwanted behavior at graduation ceremonies. The student part was almost easy--the audience always a bit more of a challenge!

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