While it’s beautiful to hear your name shouted as you walk across the stage at high school graduation, it’s not unreasonable for the school administration to want order. So when the school superintendent of Senatobia High School in Mississippi explained before the ceremony that everyone should hold their applause and excitement until after all the students have accepted diplomas and if not, they would be removed, that was okay. And after four parents yelled for their kids that’s exactly what happened. But that wasn’t all:
Senatobia Municipal School District Superintendent Jay Foster filed ‘disturbing the peace’ charges against the people who yelled at graduation. Officers issued warrants for their arrests with a possible $500 bond. “It’s crazy,” Henry Walker said. “The fact that I might have to bond out of jail, pay court costs, or a $500 fine for expressing my love, it’s ridiculous man. It’s ridiculous.” … “Okay,” Miller said. “I can understand they can escort me out of the graduation, but to say they going to put me in jail for it. What else are they allowed to do?”
Talk about unjustly raining on someone’s parade.
Team Blackness also discussed the Alabama Senate voting to change the name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge where Bloody Sunday took place, why New Jersey health “experts” think you shouldn’t eat sewer fish, and a lunch lady who was fired for giving kids who couldn’t afford them free lunches.
Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS
There was a long conversation about graduation behavior yesterday and some folks felt it was a chance for people to stick it to the man by raisin cain during the ceremony. What say you?
The only reason I go to a graduation is to cheer for my student. As a recent graduate, the only thing I cared about at the graduation was getting my diploma. Less speechifying, which is usually a waste of time, and more cheering, I say!
I can distinctly remember dull roars heard off-campus for the years of college graduations I was around for. The louder roars were the ones I actualy attended.
So the superintendent said they would be removed if they cheered. Okay, think its a little harsh, but I can see that. I have been to graduations where they ask for quiet until all the grads were done. Still heard some cheers, but what the heck.
But I don’t see where the superintendent said they would be removed and subject to arrest. Talk about stupidity.
I go to college graduations at least twice a year, and there are always requests for people to hold their applause until after all the names are called for awards, but not for when people are walking across the stage. I mean, why ask people to be quiet for what could be a high point in the life of a family member?
The odd thing about the lunch lady story is that our school district (rich & suburban) has policies in place that make sure the kids always get fed regardless of their ability to pay.
Usually it has to do with parents forgetting to refill their kid’s account. The elementary & middle school that my kids attended serve the poor downtown areas. I told the principal of the elementary school that if there are any needful kids that need money in their lunch accounts let me know and I’ll put some in. She told me that the school had it covered.
Less speechifying, and a tad more mace and tazing of superintendents.
I see that Superintendent Foster is a white dude. And it looks like most or all of the parents are black. Guess he wanted to put those unruly, uppity blahs in their place.
Yes, and the more people you have screaming your name the better. It’s a chance to really show how many relatives you have.
Because other people have family members graduating too? And maybe want to hear their names?
I wonder on what grounds the arrest warrant was issued.
I believe the warrant was served several days after the graduation ceremony had taken place.
The judge ordered an arrest warrant based on the testimony (? I ain’t no lawyer, so I don’t know the correct legal term), of the Superintendent. Were there other witnesses? Was there actual physical damage?
What did the Superintendent say, “hey, we had a graduation ceremony and these four people cheered, when we asked them to stay quiet so can we have them arrested?”
Judge, “Why, they did not do exactly what you told them! That’s a crime in Mississippi, I’ll get the po-po right on it!”
The whole thing stinks to high heaven of a bunch of good old boys, who know each other just sticking it to some uppity Negroes for fun.
Why the quotation marks around “experts?”
“Don’t eat sewer fish” seems like reasonable advice to me.
I’ve heard that argument.
There’s a line between being so disruptive that others cannot hear the names, as they are called, and my folks cheering, once and only once, “GENE108! Way to go!” as I walk across the stage.
Seems like this Superintendent has some major issues. He had them removed from the graduation ceremony for one outburst, which is a bit over the top.
You can always say, “I want to remind everyone to be quiet until the end of the ceremony or you will be removed.” But from what I read, there wasn’t even that much of a warning given.
From the way Ferguson, MO is run, I wouldn’t be surprised if this town in Mississippi is worse.
There was a thread on this the other day and people were observing that making a ruckus at graduation events seems to be a peculiarly Black/redneck (i.e. southern?) thing. WASPs all sit politely on their hands and do as they’re told. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that people give some respect for a few minutes and let everyone hear their name called before applauding and cheering. Disruptive people should be removed. But this superintendent is clearly just trying to make an example of some Black people. They were made to leave and that should have been the end of it. But it’s Mississippi and you have to “respect mah authoritah!” (Actually the guy does look a bit like a grown-up Cartman with a bad toupee).
@kc: But meanwhile, knitting fish get a pass.
Where is the justice?
They made much the same announcement at my graduation more than 50 years ago. All white school of course. And out of 400+ graduates, there were maybe half a dozen families who cheered anyway. It happened every year that I know of. I guess being human while black is a crime in this country now.
The Walmart reigns in the Canadian parade:
I’ve had a couple of kids graduate from high school in the last 10 years. They both attended schools with sizable African-American student populations. The officials both times asked for quiet while names were being read, and both times were ignored by guests cheering loud and long for African-American graduates. Really loud (the first ceremony I’m talking about was in 2006, and guests brought noisemakers including air horns) and really long, enough to drown out recognition for lots of other graduates. By the time #2 kid graduated there were policies to ban noisemakers and inspections to keep them from being brought into the venue.
I’m mostly philosophical about this, thinking that graduation as a solemn and decorous occasion is a white people’s tradition and not something ordained by FSM, and anyway maybe many of these guests are cheering for the first member of their family to make it all the way to the ceremony. But screaming and blowing airhorns for your kid/nephew/cousin so loudly and for so long that three or four or a half-dozen other grads’ names are drowned out passes beyond celebration to the realm of obnoxiousness. And these are ceremonies for 400-500 grads, so slowing the pace to allow for individual applause really isn’t an option.
But to return to the OP, yeah, when I saw this news item yesterday my first thought was “The superintendent is white and the offending parents are black, and he decided he’d put them in their place.” Asshole.
True, but I think even that is obnoxious. Why people think it’s necessary to yell during the ceremony is beyond me. I mean you got plenty of time to congratulate your graduating family members before the ceremony, or afterwards, or both; you can throw’em a party, give them a check, all that, but the hollering and carrying on during the ceremony is just juvenile attention seeking. My opinion may be informed by the facts that 1) I’m old and 2) my high school graduating class had 800 kids – thank FSM I graduated before everyone decided to turn the show into their personal celebration.
Now get off my lawn, whippersnapper! [brandishes cane]
ETA to say I’m not defending the arrest of the family members here; I don’t know enough about that case; I’m just grumbling like an old fart about the shouting and carrying on during the ceremony.
So obviously arrest warrants were way, way, way, way too far.
Moving to the more mundane noise-v.-no-noise-at-graduation discussion, I’m on the side of keeping quiet because you want other people to hear their loved ones’ names. I absolutely hate anyone that brings an air horn to a graduation ceremony.
Additionally, we were always taught growing up that part of waiting until the end to applaud/cheer for everyone was that was that some kids didn’t have anyone or as many people there. Because you didn’t want to make them feel bad for not getting as loud of a cheer as the other kids, you wait until the end, when it all blends together into general appreciation for the class. Fewer inferiority complexes developing.
I’m kind of torn on this issue in general (not on the warrants; that would be an absurd abuse of power were it not a frightening one). We’ve been to three graduation ceremonies this year, and at two we didn’t get to hear our child’s name called because of the shouting and cheering for the student called before. I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way, but that is the effect.
At the third ceremony, I talked to the woman sitting next to me, who told me she was going to shout for her daughter, and didn’t care who it bothered. She herself had never finished high school, become trapped in dead-end jobs, and her daughter would be the first of her children to graduate. We chatted a little more before the ceremony, and I came to appreciate how important this day was for her and her family. It turned out I had coached her daughter some years previously, so I cheered for her, too (in a restrained, Norwegian-Lutheran kind of way, of course).
I don’t know how much more time it would take to allow an extra five seconds between names being announced (well, sure, 300 graduates times 5 seconds equals 1500 seconds, or 25 minutes; is that too much?), but I would vote for allowing extra time and let the families cheer their hearts out. Maybe a tone or other sound just before each name is called, so that the cheerers would have a cue to cut it.
i said this on the other, but even a one line hoot for somebody, when done for everybody, makes an already long and boring (minus the ten seconds you guy or gal is crossing) ceremony even longer. you kind of have to nip it in the bud. i had 900 kids in my graduatijng class. i could see being more lenient if there were under 100
that said, there must be more to this story, right?
I live in White, WASP land and I can assure you that cheering at graduations is a parent/relative thing. I’ve been to so many graduations as a parent and a teacher and they all featured some cheering.
The only events that seem to have more cheering are dance recitals but even then it’s pretty evenly boisterous.
@shawn: I didn’t think of it before, but if you eliminate the announcement of the graduates names, perhaps by having them flashed on a screen for 4 or 5 seconds, then no one’s child’s name would be drowned out by cheering, and everyone could cheer all they wanted.
Anyone else getting tired of all these ‘crazy/bad school admin/teacher’ stories? You know how many schools there must be in the country, and that most by far run will little trouble? It kinda feels like punching down, like a “those who can’t: teach” style pile on.
Is it clickbait? Or am I arguing #NotAllAdmins?
I can understand why the superintendent might request that applause be held to the end. I can also understand why family members would ignore that request (especially, as noted above, if lots or all of the relatives had not graduated HS and this represented a family milestone as well as an individual one).
Ejecting people who cheered? Asinine and mean-spirited, but no ongoing real-world repercussions.
Seeking to have them charged with crimes? Outrageous, cruel, and a grotesque abuse of power.
Being a cop/prosecutor that acquiesced in the arrests and criminal charges? Professional malpractice.
The next words the superintendent and the cops/prosecutors/judges involved in this travesty should hear are “good luck in your future professional endeavors.”
The “White folks are universally decorous.” defense is making me giggle.
Regardless of the ethnicity involved, it is a “We are special and what we want to do at this exact moment is the most important thing. To hell with consequences” thing. When I am typing this, I am applying it specifically to those ceremonies where there is a community expectation that such boisterous activities not happen.
In the end there is nothing wrong with an organization saying, “This is the way that this ceremony or meeting or performance is going to be conducted.” Period.
Unfortunately in current society, for such decisions to hold, there must be consequences or the expectations will quickly become meaningless.
The question becomes, “Which consequences?”
Arrest for the behavior that was described in the press was a dumb-fuck idea.
People used to be quiet when someone shot free throws too. So what?
@phein55: i like it. or even better just pile them all into a comfy movie theater and just show a three hour “in Memorium” style montage
or, brain genius working here
have the the kid walk the stage and the family walk in front of the stage all as one unit – no full time spectators what so ever – they could each be given one minute to cheer or take a picture and then exit the building – the A’s are from 9-9:30, B’s from 9:30-10 etc – if you miss your time to line up you are SOL – then you dont have to sit through anybody’s eles kid or relatives. TM TM TM, i TM this idea
@shawn: I guess you don’t live in a place where the high schools have 3000+ students. Or maybe the schools where you live have infinite resources so that they can drag their commencement proceedings out over a few days.
I’m not sure where people are coming up with this whole “WASPs celebrate graduations like this, while African Americans celebrate like this.” I’ve been to plenty of graduations, from my brothers very diverse highschool, to my husband’s younger siblings at a private Catholic school in Boca Raton, and there have been people who cheered or clapped out loud at every one I’ve been to. What I’ve never seen is someone so much as escorted out, and what I’ve never even heard of was someone getting slapped with a disturbing the peace. What a disgusting thing. I can’t believe 1) the Superintendent did it, and 2) that the cops didn’t laugh at him when he called it in.
I have a genuine question I haven’t seen addressed. Is there anyone doing a crowdfunding bit to help these poor families pay their legal bills or the fines? I hate to think they’re stuck with all those.
Yes, yes it is. Sorry, I work at a large university and have been forced to sit through way too many looooong graduation ceremonies(but I’m missing this year’s, suckers!) Anything that drags it out longer is too much.
That said, I will be attending my nephew’s graduation. There will be about 40 graduates, and there was plenty of cheering and hollering at his sister’s ceremony. But it’s only 40 kids. As is so often the case, scale matters.
So today we will continue to argue about commencement etiquette?
Let me offer another thought. This was not about a few parents hooting at a graduation. This is about power and the lengths one man, and the power structure he represents, will go to punish those who do not respect his authority. Period. The only purpose in getting arrest warrants for disruptive parents is as a show of force to anyone who will cross you whether it is at a commencement ceremony, a PTA meeting, a school board meeting, a budget meeting, or a faculty lounge. This man wants to show EVERYONE what he is willing to do to get his way. It is intimidation pure and simple, and he is willing to saddle four proud parents with criminal records to teach that lesson.
To be distracted with discussion of commencement etiquette in this situation is analogous, in my opinion, of using the Emmett Till lynching to discuss the plague of cat calling on public streets.
It’s about power, race, and control of public space of anyone who doesn’t know their place in it.
Regardless of where you stand on shouting at your kids during graduation, the topic of commencement etiquette is just so unimportant compared to this level of injustice and arbitrary use of police power by a representative of the state, isn’t it?
@Aardvark Cheeselog: my high school had almost 4000 kids total – i sat through my big sisters of 850 or so I think, it was misery, i skipped mine, my army graduation got rained out
you wouldn’t need infinite resources, just set up the stage in the cafetorium, dress it for a graduation, and have a few staff, or even student council/NHS types marshall the line. as people will not be there all at once crowd control would be a breeze, you could have cutouts of the adminitration, but really they could just suck it up for the day and wear comfortable shoes and undies
Fewer speeches. Announcers waiting until the cheering dies down to say the next name. I want to celebrate my kids accomplishment, I don’t find graduations dignified (have you seen those caps?), and I would take joy over dignity every day of the week.
Last year one of my grandkids “graduated” up to Middle School. The announcement to please be quiet was made and the first half dozen or so kids (out of maybe a total of 50-60) had their name called and walked across the stage in eerie silence. Then, a kid got some applause. Then, a few kids, then, more and more of the kids started getting applause and cheers. Then, the classmates started joining in and things got loud and boisterous and a lot more fun than the deadly silence. It probably took a bit longer but it still went pretty quickly. And, the announcer waited till the noise died down before announcing the next kid, so, no names were drowned out.
I can see where it might be problematic if there was a large number of graduates, but, really, I’d prefer a three hour ceremony with lots of cheering and whistling and stamping of feet to a 2.5 hour ceremony where the only sound was the sound of dozens of family members texting while waiting for their precious snow flake’s name to be called..
Where my head is at is this:
These families are really excited about their child’s graduation, and they really want them to have a public shout-out in front of everyone: teachers, friends, neighbors, other parents, everyone.
Let’s find a way to make that happen that doesn’t diss other students.
I like any outside-the-box thinking (Shawn), and dislike when I find myself dismissive of other people’s joy.
If a 4-year academic career isn’t worth 5 – 10 seconds of cheering, I don’t know what is.
Y’know, every year I put together a slide show montage of the boy’s swim team and baseball team for their banquets. I’m trying to think of the logistics of putting a slide show together for a graduating class of 300, but I’m sure it could be done, given forethought and outreach to the parents.
I teach at a big diverse public HS in Texas and so I have to sit through graduation every year as teachers are required to attend. Ever year the student population grows and the graduating class is up to about 600 now which takes a long time to read without any interruption.
Yes, people get loud although I’m not sure it is really a black thing as a class thing. I see just as many groups of obese trailer park looking white families creating a ruckus with the air horns and long screams and whistles. I frankly really don’t care but I do understand the parents up there with their expensive video equipment trying to capture the moment on video and having their child’s name drowned out by the screaming for the kid before.
I think what makes some of these administrators unhinged is that they have no control over the parents. They can control every aspect of their student’s behavior and comportment right up until the end of the ceremony and spend endless amounts of energy trying to do so. But it makes them crazy that they can’t control the parents. In the 10 years that I’ve been attending graduation I’ve seen it go from kids in front, teachers in the back to teachers at the end of each row of students to teachers leading each row of students in and being responsible for checking their row for contraband (beach balls etc) and now they have added all the coaches standing spaced around the perimeter ready at a moment’s notice to walk out and straighten out a kid. But the one thing they can’t control is the parents.
My school does do the slide show montage but they don’t try to sync it with the students marching across the stage. They just have a big montage where each kid has a slide listing their accomplishments and scholarships and with the odd photo or two. I don’t know who puts it together. But it just runs from when the doors open until the ceremony begins. They hold graduation at the local big time college basketball arena so they have the big screens to use.
I don’t know. It’s a public school. You pretty much have to take the public you have not the public you might wish to have (to paraphrase Rumsfeld). If you want your child to graduate with the proper pomp and circumstance surrounded by other rich waspy types who know how to behave there are plenty of expensive private schools that will be glad to oblige for your $25 grand a year.