Friday, June 13, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Celebrate

I’m not sure whether I should be proud or ashamed of living in South Carolina today.
I suppose I should feel pride that all crime has been eradicated in the state. All the killers, rapists, child abusers, wife beaters, and drug dealers have been rounded up off the streets, all the burglars and thieves have been locked away, any stray illegals have been deported, and even jaywalkers are using crosswalks.

How do I know this? Because there was nothing else constructive for police to do than arrest seven people at two different high school graduation ceremonies this past weekend because they cheered for the graduate they came to support.

Six people attending the graduation of Fort Mill High School were charged with disorderly conduct; the seventh riotous anarchist was arrested at the ceremony for York Comprehensive School. Police said the seven yelled after students' names were called.

Rock Hill police began patrolling graduations several years ago at the request of school districts who complained of increasing disruption. Those attending graduations are told they can be prosecuted for bad behavior and letters are sent home with students, said Rock Hill police spokesman Lt. Jerry Waldrop.

All the cases, except for one that includes a resisting arrest charge, will be handled in city court and are punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $1,000fine.

I can just see that scene now at the lockup:
“Hey man, what are you in for?”
“Second-degree murder. What about you?”
“I cheered at my brother’s high school graduation.”
“Whoah! Hard core, dude.”

One of the applause-terrorists, 19-year old William Massey, says he simply "clapped and gave a little whoop" when his fiancee's name was called. A graduate last year of the same school, he was arrested but said he plans to fight the charge. He said not everyone who cheered was arrested, and that there were warnings before the ceremony but none that said he could be arrested.

"There's a lot more people that did it than six or seven," said Massey.
Fort Mill Principal Dee Christopher says school officials don't ask that offenders be arrested but that he plans to keep a police presence at future graduation ceremonies.

"We think it's important for every graduate's name to be heard and for every person in the arena to be able to see that student cross the stage. ... That's why we have disruptive guests removed," he said.

You have got to be freakin’ kidding me.

All these people keep defending the actions of the school systems by stating that a graduation needs to be dignified and grown up and solemn. I call CRAPOLA on that. At 18, you have the next 60 to 80 years to be all dignified and solemn and grown up, because that’s all anyone expects of us as adults. Graduating high school is closing the door on childhood and stepping into adulthood. Go out with a bang. Have fun. Be applauded and enjoy your eleven seconds of striding across the stage in the limelight and be a happy kid for one last time before the crushing weight of adult responsibility lands on your throat.

Just last week a study was released by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center that stated fewer than six in 10 South Carolina students graduate in four years. Almost 56 percent of South Carolina students graduate in four years, which is far lower than the national average of nearly 71 percent but better than the state rate of almost 54 percent the previous year. The Palmetto State's ranking for its on-time graduation rate improved from the worst in the country to the fourth-lowest, according the national publication Education Week, which published the report. Oh boy! We’re no longer dead last! We’re number 46! (Though I do applaud the effort teachers are making and the improvements that were made.)

Caitlin Upton, Lexington High , Class of 2007, Miss Teen South Carolina
A shining example of our state's fine educational system

So barely half the kids in this state graduate on time, if at all, and kids and families aren’t allowed to get just a little happy about it? My God, some of these kids are the first in their families to graduate. Many of them unfortunately won’t, or can’t, go on to college, so this will likely be their sole opportunity to walk across a stage and be handed a symbol of accomplishment. Don't kill the joy.

I graduated from a very small school in coastal Maine, with about 75 other kids, and it felt damned good when I heard my mom yell from the stands. And after that, I was an adult, set loose upon the world. Even recruits at Parris Island get cheered by family members. And if the Marine Corps will allow cheering, then I think a high school graduation should too.

Last year in Galesburg, Illinois, five students were denied diplomas from the city's lone public high school after enthusiastic friends or family members cheered for them during commencement. Students could get their diplomas after completing eight hours of public service for the school district.

That’s absolute crap. That‘s tantamount to obligating a student to complete another requirement to receive that to which they were already entitled and had already fulfilled the pre-set requirements. It’s hardly fair to arbitrarily change the requirements and force a student into unpaid indentured servitude to receive their diploma. In essence, a student who is NO LONGER A STUDENT, having finished the required curriculum, was being given a detention of sorts to release a diploma being held hostage. So I wonder: if the kid refused to enter into these eight hours of slavery, would they have their status as a graduate revoked? I mean, it’s the piece of paper itself being held hostage, the diploma, not the actual status of Graduate. If it were me, I’d tell ‘em to shove their diploma up their fourth point of contact rather than take community service because someone was happy to see me graduate. Can that be qualified as being wrongfully detained against your will since this sentence was from a school district and not a judge? Frikkin’ tyrants.

And over across the pond, further dumbness abounds. At England’s Anglia Ruskin University, officials have warned graduates not to hurl their mortar boards into the air because of health and safety fears. The crackdown follows a student needing stitches to close a head wound after he was hit by one of the flying hats several years ago. Chiefs at Britain’s 13th largest university, with campuses at Cambridge and Chelmsford, say stopping the celebration will also protect the mortar boards.

Again, more crap. One isolated incident where someone got hurt in a completely freak accident, and now a decades-long tradition is being suppressed. And this trend is unfortunately catching fire here in America too. An awful lot of schools here are going the same route, scared as hell that someone might get a boo-boo and sue the school district. My class threw our mortar boards, and no one was decapitated or skewered through the cornea. How many more must die before mortar boards are outlawed? I propose a background check and 10-day waiting period for the purchase of mortar boards. How many must be maimed before we outlaw the barbaric practice of graduations? It’s fabric-covered cardboard, people, not the knife-edged derby hat worn by Oddjob in the James Bond films.

Hey's Oddjob!

The tradition began at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1912. Before then, Naval Academy graduates had to serve two years in the fleet as Naval Cadets or Midshipmen before being commissioned as officers in the Navy or Marine Corps, and they needed to retain their Midshipman’s hats for their sea tour. Beginning with the Class of 1912, graduates were commissioned ensigns or second lieutenants, following the reception of their diplomas and hence no longer needed their Midshipman’s hats. In a spontaneous gesture, the new officers tossed their old hats into the air. This "hat toss" became the symbolic and visual end to the four-year program at the Naval Academy. It's a tradition carried out at all the service academies now.

Graduation ceremonies at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and The Citadel

Again, if it’s okay for those guys & gals to whoop and cheer after four years in such a Spartan lifestyle, despite being dignified officers of the United States Navy, then I see no reason other than the Sissyfication™ of America as to why our overly-litigious, sue-happy, and lawsuit-scared society should take all the fun out of graduation. Even President Bush has goofed around on stage with graduates.

Lighten up, people. These kids will eventually be choosing your nursing home.


Randy said...

At my son's graduation, people that let out hoops and hoolers were summarily escorted out. Those of us who kept the dignity had to sit through the entire ceremony. Something's wrong with that.

I think they should create a holding cell for these folks and keep them 90 minutes past all the rest of the people. That will quiet them down.

P.S. This is the last graduation I have to go to for a while, but I would cut the article out about the folks in Rock Hill and give it to the local principal. It would quiet things down.

Oh, I'm on the opposite side as you..

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

I'm not advocating chaos and total anarchy at graduations *grin*
As with anything, it needs to be done with a modicum of taste and
restraint, something that few people can muster it seems. Moderation is a
lost art these days. A quick cheer, a hooray.....not air horns and beach

I don't want to destroy the dignity of a graduation by turning it into an
episode of the Arsenio Hall Show, but it also needn't be a borderline
funeral wake.