I had the pleasure and the honor of attending two very different graduation ceremonies this spring and, at each of them, family members in the crowd applauded and cheered for their respective graduates as each received their diplomas. Sure, the host of the festivities asked that we “hold our applause until all the graduates had received their diplomas” but it was more of a request than an order. And it certainly wasn’t a law. Some cheered, others didn’t and the ceremonies progressed without incident.
Although parents at a Florence, SC high school graduation ceremony last Saturday were also, reportedly, warned that they would be asked to leave the auditorium where the ceremony was held if they applauded for individual students receiving their diplomas, one excited mother was actually arrested. When Shannon Cooper’s daughter crossed the stage, she stood and shouted “Yay, my baby made it!” and was quickly approached by police who handcuffed her and escorted her to a van waiting outside the venue where they charged her with disorderly conduct. Her daughter, after seeing her mother in the van after the ceremony, broke down in tears and one of the happiest days in her life became the day her mother got arrested.
“Are ya’ll serious? Are ya’ll for real?” – Shannon Cooper while being arrested for cheering at her daughter’s graduation ceremony
I imagine the police and the arrest were a much larger distraction to the festivities than an overly proud parent cheering for the child on a momentous occasion. Apparently, because three high schools were graduating together, it was important to ensure that every parent was able to hear their child’s name called. The school sent out multiple notices to all parents requesting their cooperation and warning them that cheering or yelling could get them removed by police from the ceremony.
I think this is ridiculous. And there must be more to the story. It almost seems as if the authorities or the school’s administration were on a mission to set an example and arrest someone. I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony where there were police officers and a paddy wagon waiting at the curb. Cooper challenges the validity of the disorderly conduct charge because she fully cooperated with police. She and her daughter also assert that others were cheering and were not arrested.
In Mount Healthy, Ohio, graduating senior Anthony Cornist was denied his diploma because his family and friends were thought to have cheered too loudly as he crossed the stage during his graduation ceremony. Local news reported that the school’s principal sent a letter to Cornist informing him that his diploma would be held in his office until he or his family members completed twenty hours of community service. He is, essentially, being punished for something that he had no control over.
I say give the kids their diplomas and let the parents cheer! They’ve endured as much as twelve years of public school red tape and they’ve earned the right to be excited for their graduates. If the ceremony takes a little longer … so what?
No cheering, indeed.
Do you cheer at graduation ceremonies?
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