The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

June 8, 2012

LEVINE: Punishment overreaching at graduation ceremonies

CLINTON — I don’t remember much about my high school graduation, but I’m pretty sure police didn’t haul away any parents in handcuffs.

Unfortunately for a South Carolina girl, she won’t have similar memories from her commencement ceremony.

According to several reports, South Carolina police arrested Shannon Cooper last weekend for cheering for her daughter during graduation ceremonies at South Florence High School in South Carolina. She was escorted out of the building in front of all the graduates, and then sat in a police van outside for the duration of the ceremony.

That seems a little harsh, but I figured it was just one occurrence in the vast array of graduation ceremonies. I was wrong.

Another incident involving excessive cheering occurred in Cincinnati, where a student had his diploma withheld for his family’s rowdy applause.  

OK, so this is getting out of hand.

What’s wrong with a little cheering?

I understand that it’s not “fair” for some students to get loud applause while others walk across the stage with near silence. If schools are preparing students for the real world, this is not the way.

Unfortunately no one cheers for me while I sit at my desk on a daily basis, but I don’t need “Big Brother” to install an applause track near my chair so I feel good about myself, just so I can say my job is as important as some sports star or musical act.

For some people, graduating high school is a major step. I never pictured myself without a high school diploma, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. But for some, this occasion marks something not seen in their entire family.

So a little — or a lot — of cheering is understandable. School isn’t prison, no matter how much some administrators want it to be.

Luckily, no area schools have stooped to this level of discipline.

Sure, some schools are somehow upset about the rowdy crowds, but once in a while common sense should prevail. There’s no sense in dragging someone out of a commencement ceremony in handcuffs and it’s absurd to deny a student a diploma for their family’s reaction.

The student worked hard to earn the diploma, and the school is stepping out of bounds in this situation.

Hopefully, we won’t have to cover any of these stories in our area in the future. Luckily our school personnel recognize the uniqueness of graduation and can use common sense when hosting this kind of event.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald.

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