No diploma for you!
June 9, 2001 3:34 PM   Subscribe

No diploma for you! School official refuses to hand diploma to a girl onstage because the audience is noisy. Girl 'graduates' later, in school cafeteria. Die, public education, die.
posted by gsh (33 comments total)
Oh my good god.

If it had been me, I would've decked the principal. Right there on stage. Jeezus keeerist.
posted by SpecialK at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2001

Isn't the whole point of a graduation ceremony is to celebrate and cheer for the graduates?
posted by gyc at 4:10 PM on June 9, 2001

Why in the world was the audience so noisy in the first place? Why did the Principal single out these two girls over the rest of the class? This really does not make any sense... This is ridiculous.
posted by crog at 4:21 PM on June 9, 2001

No, there is a time and a place for cheering, but a ceremony meant to be somewhat dignified is not the place. It shows a lack of class, especialy after being asked to shut the hell up.
posted by Mick at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2001

In case anyone cares, or feels like voicing their concerns directly, the principal, Steve Bryant, can be reached via his public school email address, Furthermore, the school's site is available here.
posted by Hankins at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2001

No, there is a time and a place for cheering, but a ceremony meant to be somewhat dignified is not the place. It shows a lack of class, especialy after being asked to shut the hell up.

Sez you. Why is it such a big deal that the audience sit in silence? Whose ceremony is it, anyway?
posted by rodii at 5:22 PM on June 9, 2001

The crowd may have lacked class, but so did the principal for even acknowledging them. If he was so worried about dignity, he should have just carried on in spite of the noise. What a disappointment for those poor girls.
posted by RylandDotNet at 5:27 PM on June 9, 2001

i smell blood...this one deserves full attention. lets get some video, depositions and hang us a P.H.d.on the old school room totem pole. Hankins has the e-mail b@%B ready, rodiis' got the point and i'll cover the organ grinder. What a breach of etiquette, could not one public official have enough presence to quiet the room. (a short controlled burst of the sleek HK-45 would be helpful but to noteworthy) Graduation is not a big deal but that is my view.(this coming from someone who entered a Big Ten university without a diploma, GED, pay-off or S.A.T) But i have been to enough of them to realize the importance of these rather sweaty events. I suits and palm pilots collecting the easiest depositions in history.
posted by clavdivs at 5:43 PM on June 9, 2001

I remember seeing this sort of thing (though on a less severe level) constantly when I was in school--administrators feeling that, if some students are doing something wrong, it's perfectly acceptable to punish any random student (or even every student) for it, regardless of whether that student was involved in the wrongdoing. I can only assume that it happens everywhere. This is a pity. It's an unnacceptable, unjust, and inneffective way to behave. This principal deserves all the hate mail he's going to get. I hope he loses his job.
posted by moss at 6:07 PM on June 9, 2001

No, this is up there with clapping during a movie and flash photography during a play. There is a time and a place for certain behavior. Although holding back the diploma may have gone to far
posted by Mick at 6:08 PM on June 9, 2001

OK, so that's a little stupid, but really, who cares? This article is written as if it would scar her for life. In twenty years she won't be able to laugh at it? I agree with "die, public education, die" but I have better reasons, like taking away constitutional rights, and the little issue of not really not really teaching anything.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2001

What was the quote everyone was slinging a week ago? Something like, 'Let it go - it's only high school.'

I may have a skewed memory of my old grade school, but there was nothing dignified about it. When it wasn't pathetic and half baked, it was overdramatic and absurd. You don't 'graduate' high school - you get it over with. For the most part, you can't NOT 'graduate' an American High School, unless you give it up yourself: if you're steadfastly dumb as a brick, they'll eventually age you out of the system with an honorable discharge anyway.

So... if there are no real standards for graduation, there is no real dignity in any exit ceremony.

Frankly, the girl should have stood her place on that stage until she got her useless scrap of paper. She had fulfilled her requirements. She had passed her tests. She was no longer a student at that school - she was standing on that platform as an individual of equal rights and stature to the government employee in front of her.

Dignity? Here's some of the more interesting statistics about the Greenfield Central School (Class of 00): generally, Greenfield is sucking wind on a academic level, so any claim to a momentous ceremony requiring pious attention is about as worthy as a marriage officiated by someone who bought their credentials on E-bay.
posted by Perigee at 6:34 PM on June 9, 2001

Thank you, dagnyscott. If we don't keep our eyes on the main game and waste our time being all outraged and righteously indignant about the small stuff, the big stuff just keeps getting worse, and civilization slides that much further into the toilet...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:34 PM on June 9, 2001

civilization slides that much further into the toilet...

Heee... that sure seems to be what's happening here. :)

I also hope this short-sigted twerp loses his job. If you want people to behave, you don't punish them, you teach them how to behave. That's a process that they should've been teaching all four years. Seems to me that this principal has lost sight of teaching, and instead just likes the power that his position gives him.

From Ursula K. LeGuin's translation of the Tao Te Ching:

Talking about power

Great power, not clinging to power, has true power.
Lesser power, clinging to power, lacks true power.
Great power, doing nothing, has nothing to do.
Lesser power, doing nothing, has an end in view.

The good the truly good do has no end in view.
The right the very righteous do has an end in view.
And those who act in true obedience to the law
roll up their sleeves
and make the disobedient obey.

So: When we lose the Way, we find power;
losing power we find goodness;
losing goodness we find righteousness;
losing righteousness we're left with obedience.

Obedience to the law is the dry husk
of loyalty and good faith.
Opinion is the barren flower of the Way,
the beginning of ignorance.

So great-minded people
abide in the kernel, not the husk,
in the fruit not the flower,
letting one go, keeping the other.


Seems like a lot of trouble would be avoided in today's schools by simply focusing on what's important, which is learning, and letting go of what's unimportant, which is this absolute cling to dignity and "The Rules" that we see in schools. Zero tolerance works, but all it gets you is obedience, which is a very very different thing from doing it out of respect.

But then again, the second path is harder and takes someone with intelligence to carry that out. And we can't have intelligence in today's world, now can we?
posted by SpecialK at 6:59 PM on June 9, 2001

This is like a South Park episode. "Children quiet. Quiet children. You have forced me to do this. [Principal shoots student] Now look what you made me do."

School officials who behave in such a way are a disgrace. [Smelling the blood in the air] I call for a Jihad against this principal. I imagine as this story goes out that his email inbox is feeling the weight of the MeFi Hooligans. Maybe we could find out his address and send him pizzas? You did not hear this from me.
posted by Stretch at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2001

Simple: law suit. Everyone does this in America. Her parents will sue.
posted by Postroad at 7:20 PM on June 9, 2001

Considering the amount of people who never make it through high school, I would say giving some recognition to those who do isn't too much to ask. For some, it is a big deal.
posted by owillis at 8:05 PM on June 9, 2001

At my high school graduation, we were not actually given our diplomas. Everyone who walked got diploma holders, and then after the ceremony we were given the real pieces of paper to put in said holders. This was done to try and prevent kids from doing something to ruin the ceremony after they got their diplomas.... something like that.
posted by crawl at 8:33 PM on June 9, 2001

2 thoughts. First, the best & classiest graduation prank I ever heard about was that each graduating senior walked up to the podium & when he or she shook hands with the superintendent, put a marble in his hand. As this was a rather large senior class, the supe soon was stuffing the pockets of his pants & jackets full of marbles. As it was he who told us about this, that was a pretty damn good prank.
Second, WTF does this have to do with public education?
posted by Lynsey at 9:26 PM on June 9, 2001

At our graduation, we got the diploma holders and had to go into another line after the ceremony to get the real deal.

Also, we were to hand the announcer a paper with our names so we all abused it by either adding Spanish accents or (in my case) listing your entire name (as in first, middle, last and jr). Fun stuff.
posted by owillis at 10:21 PM on June 9, 2001

So... if there are no real standards for graduation, there is no real dignity in any exit ceremony.

Well, that may be, but they chose to have the ceremony, justified or not. It has nothing to do with the quality of their education. It's done to make the students feel good, and to give their parents something to be proud of. For a lot of people (like me, for instance), it's one of the very few good memories they'll have from high school, and the principal screwed it up. I'm sorry for those two girls. I'm sure they won't be scarred for life or anything, but it is a downer.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:40 PM on June 9, 2001

Some folks call clavdivs a slingblade...
posted by hincandenza at 11:04 PM on June 9, 2001

hmm... only in the midwest?
"i worked hard for 12 years for this and i don't get it!!!"

former fox tv network show "american high", now on pbs, aired an episode with the kids at sr prom. one kid said, "i've been waiting for this night my whole life, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity..." or something of that nature. they're from the midwest, too, i persume, everyone on tv is suppose to be in a specific part of the country but the target demographic is the midwestern crowd. wow. 8 for you wankers out by the oceans, 7 central.

good god, people, life goes on beyond age 18, age 21, college, marriage, children, divorce, menopause, hair loss......
posted by elle at 6:18 AM on June 10, 2001

At my graduation I felt like a superstar because not only did I get my diploma but I got a lot of different awards too. I would have been pissed off if someone had stopped me from getting one of my awards or worse yet my diploma because the crowd cheering for me was too loud. People are celebrating for chrissakes, it's not a funeral. Good Lord.
posted by summer1971 at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2001

We didn't get our diplomas at graduation either. I think that's just in case someone didn't show and you got someone else's or something. There were over 350 people, so there was a good chance of that happening. You had to go into the office sometime to pick up the diploma. My main memory from graduation was going "Who the hell are all these people, and why don't I know them? I've gone to Grandville schools my entire life!"
posted by dagnyscott at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2001

We had a graduating class of 850+, so we got our vinyl diploma holders during the ceremony, and our respective guidance counselors gave us our diplomas afterwards. We cheered a lot, had the required beachballs bouncing around, lots of people were blowing bubbles, and even with 850 students PLUS families and friends it still went off without a hitch. Maybe this school just needed a better sound system? ;-) Maybe if the principal didn't think that the students were his enemies he would have been able to float with the river instead of trying to dam up the whole works.
posted by thunder at 2:44 PM on June 10, 2001

Actually what happens here locally is that if someone makes noise, they are escorted out by security.
Really. No joke.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:09 PM on June 10, 2001

Jeez! When they took away our beachballs, my graduating class ('98) inflated condoms and continued throwing things around and carrying on. There were far more condoms in my graduating class of 300 some odd than there were teachers to catch the inflated ones, and I know for a fact that there were condoms left over...
posted by SpecialK at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2001

The principal needs to take that stick out of his.. oh wait I'll be "dignified". Come on.. stop being so stuck up and let the kids have some fun. They've put up with you for the past four years. Who's the ceremony supposed to be for? The politicians you've invited that are only there to shamelessly promote themselves and annoy the entire audience? The Alumni you try to impress so you can get more donations? Or is the GRADUATION ceremony supposed to be for the GRADUATES? Excuse me for having a little class and remembering who this ceremony is supposed to be for.
posted by thirdball at 2:06 PM on June 11, 2001

Here's what I don't get -- did these two girls make the noises or somehow encourage the noises? If not, then why penalise them for the audience's rowdiness? The father said that there were 4,000 people there, and I'm still flabbergasted at how these two girls were responsible for the actions of 4,000 people to the extent that withholding their diplomas was even remotely reasonable.

Once again, the stupidity of an American educator comes bubbling to the surface. Why are we surprised?
posted by Dreama at 3:03 PM on June 11, 2001

"I saw Sara crying," she said. "Those girls probably should have gotten their diplomas, but it wasn't Mr. Bryant's fault. It was the audience. I support Mr. Bryant. He had to take action."

Blaming the audience for a poor judgment call on the part of the principal? After twelve years of being told to shush in school libraries, speak only when spoken to and keep one's hands to oneself, if graduation isn't the time to let one's hair down and be noisy, we might as well ALL tell our hearts to stop beating.

Mr. Bryant doesn't need to be fired. He just needs an enema.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:52 PM on June 15, 2001

Sometimes I don't get you people. I actually had to go look up ceremony to make sure I did not misunderstand the definition. I suppose I should be grateful that all the students "put up" with being educated at all, as many of you pointed out what a drag that is. Since they did put up with their education all that time, it seems like they could hold out another 45 minutes, or at least blow off their excitment at spring break.

I never attended any of my graduation ceremonies, as they seem pretty plastic as far as rites of passage go, but if I did it would not be to shake and scream. How sad.
posted by thirteen at 12:23 AM on June 16, 2001

Solution for the students of today: Boycott their own graduation "ceremony." It's plain that this has always been and will always be for the faculty to allegedly show off how smart they've made the parents' kids. It's not about the kids at all. Until scholastic institutions re-evaluate such "ceremony" and drag themselves into the 21st century, there's no reason for the students to be there.

I always wondered why they didn't just pass the diplomas out during Senior Prom, and kill two birds with one stone. Now I know why.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:04 AM on June 16, 2001

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