GHS has been in the national news this past week as a result of their new policy, instituted this year, of denying diplomas to students whose family and/or friends disrupt the graduation ceremony for any reason (I suppose they'd make an exception if Pa fell over from the shock of seeing Sonny actually gradgitate, and needed a paramedic -- but no exception for cheers, whistles, and party crackers).
Personally, I'm thinking there are quite a few people in the wrong, here... but probably not the actual graduates being denied their sheepskins. And, maybe not the school administration.
First of all, let's get a little background on the roots of the admin's policy. Galesburg High School (grades 9-12), according to the city of Galesburg's detailed profile, has a student population of over 1400 students. That puts the graduating class at a likely count of about 350 (give or take a few). It takes a while to walk through a ceremony with that many people walking across a stage to receive a document and a handshake. Any little distraction adds to that time.
Last year, people were celebrating their loved ones' success, as the ostensibly sober occasion progressed, by tootling of horns, roaring of motors and stomping of feets (an obscure reference to a ferry warning -- maybe someday I'll find the old photo & post it), among other disruptive acts. According to several people I know in the city, the event was mayhem and went on "all stinking day." Perhaps that was exaggeration, but, having been to several such events where the guest speakers knew nothing of editing for (a) comprehensible content or (b) time constraints, I can see how they may have developed that impression.
So, the school drafted a new policy. It was put into print. Every student was to read it and sign it. Family members were notified by missives sent to the up-and-coming graduates' homes. Friends knew about the new policy because it was discussed in classes, as well as bandied about in some regular chummy-like conversations.
The policy read simply that a student whose family and/or friends caused any disruption to the ceremony would not receive his or her diploma. Most families understood and complied with the new policy. By and large, the graduation ceremony went well and swiftly.
Except for a handful of thoughtless idiots, whose only concern was to make themselves heard.
Now, the few students, whose inconsiderate friends and families caused the disruption, are being forced to pay the penalty -- and some of the students are taking legal action against the school for its having the gall to do what it said it would do.
In a perfect world, the graduate would be given that diploma -- after those who actually caused the ruckus were punished.
In a perfect world, somebody would have made a recording of the entire graduation ceremony, including the noisy interruptions. That recording would then be remixed, so that after each and every grad received his or her sheepskin, the complete uproar those few made would be inserted. Over and over and over and over again. Then, make the disruptive family and friends stand in a hot, crowded space reeking of sweat and heavily redolent of old-lady perfume and faint traces of cheap beer and sweet wine, wearing those infernal caps and gowns, while they watch the entire re-edited monstrous movie and see how they like the experience.
After the last noisemaker of each party has been put through this, the graduate should be handed his or her diploma with grace -- and a healthier respect from the family and friends for what it is to stand up there and be subjected to graduation speeches and family idiocy.
In a perfect world.
But this is Galesburg, IL, in the heart of Forgottonia, so we'll have to see how things resolve themselves.