Recently, I attended the graduation of my “sister.” It was for a graduate degree, so everyone there must have graduated from college, but the crowd was wild with excitement. Despite the now-usual request to hold applause, many parents, adult children, and spouses found it impossible to restrain themselves. They yelled, whistled, and clapped with abandon.
It happens every year at graduations at every level of education. But, at high school graduations it has led to arrests. One school in Illinois required six students to do community service before receiving their diplomas, after their supporters cheered too enthusiastically. A school in South Carolina had seven people arrested for cheering too loudly.
When did graduations become an occasion requiring a police presence? At another school in Illinois, students have been arrested for trespassing after being a minute late for the commencement ceremony and barred from entering.
Graduation should be a time for community, excitement, and looking to the future. It should not be a time for apathy or vindictiveness. It seems ridiculous to me that schools would be eager to press charges when they should be celebrating their own achievement in guiding another class through the quandary of high school.
I’ll admit I find the more excessive cheering annoying at graduations. But, I certainly would not want to see anyone be arrested or publically embarrassed. Many people who cheer like that do so because times have been hard and/or graduations are not common in their families. I don’t find the graduation experience that exciting (as long as I have my degree, I’m happy), but others are thrilled by the accomplishment. I find it sweet and appreciate that they can see the beauty in the moment better than I.