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Diatribe: When Did It Become A Crime To Cheer At A Graduation Ceremony?

06/06/2012

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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15 Comments
  1. mary i permalink

    Hell ,’ya !!!!

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  2. I cheered, and I was cheered.

    But, here’s my take: the principal specifically said that the Senior class requested the audience be quiet as the names were read, and then he said those who weren’t quiet would be asked to leave.

    I don’t think it’s “arrest-worthy” but when she began shouting did she shout over the other names being called so they couldn’t be heard?

    If my kid came after hers, and she screamed so loudly no one could hear my kid’s name, i’d be annoyed.

    Still, not “arrest worthy”.

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  3. BobbyG permalink

    Arresting this lady was stupid

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  4. I hate to say it, but seems like a way to tax people for being human.

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  5. God forbid anybody enjoy life’s important moments.

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  6. Rick permalink

    Graduations have gotten out of control. The last one I attended people yelled, applauded, & also used air horns. I don’t find it “arrest worthy” but I do feel there should be decorum & everyone should respect & be respected.

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    • I’d like people to act like that in restaurants and airports and on the highway, too … but they don’t.

      I always wonder if the graduates are mortified when they hear the cheers … or if they would be even more mortified if nobody cheered for them at all.

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    • Wow! Air horns? They should totally be arrested then. But while I do agree with this lady being escorted out, arresting her is going a bit too far.

      Like you said, people forget that their kid(s) aren’t the only ones being honored, and if I were the parent of the next kid videotaping the ceremony, I’d be really really pissed if all that was caught on video was “Yay my baby made it!”. It’s not like you can ask for a retake, right?

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  7. I’m always amazed at the stuff these schools are doing now a days. Sure they guy using the air horn last week drove me nuts, but arrest him? No. Ask to leave, possibly.

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  8. After going to so many graduations over almost 40 years as a teacher, it was annoying for family and friends to make so much noise yelling, whistling, etc. Announcements were always made to hold applause and cheering and always ignored. When graduations are held, as ours were because of space, in the football stadium, it took on a more casual atmosphere, even though people were dressed up more. When graduation is inside, the cheering and shouting are even more inappropriate. I wished they could have all waited until the end when everyone was applauding, cheering, and celebrating.

    Arresting someone or even escorting them out of the ceremony is excessive but might deter it. Maybe we shouldn’t try to control their exuberance, but it really can be disruptive. Graduation is a milestone that the student has worked hard to reach. They and their families are proud and should be. How about some respect?

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  9. Anonymous permalink

    The principle lied on the seniors first of all, it was told by many of the students that they voted for their parents and family members to cheer and it was changed without them knowing until they heard it announced at the ceremony. Plus why has the district not yet shown the the video of the 3 schools’ graduations yet. Do yall not think something is funny about that???????

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    • I’m confident that there’s more to the story and I’m certain that the issue has not been resolved. Cheering will continue at graduation ceremonies regardless of any announcements made prior to the event. It would serve school administrators well to simply alter the method of length of the ceremony, or limit the number of guests per graduate, if this is truly a big problem.

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