Saturday, June 8, 2013

March. Clap. Repeat.

I got an early start on graduation season last weekend,  when I attended my niece's commencement from Carmel High School in suburban Indianapolis.

I'm always fascinated by the creative tensions that underlie such ceremonies.  School officials try to enforce decorum,  while a few students plot pranks and some families just can't help whooping it up.

I admit to feeling sympathy with the dignified and the defiant.  I behaved at my own graduation and my son's.  But when I read the letter from Carmel High urging students and families to refrain from bringing balloons,  beach balls,  bubbles and noisemakers,  my first thought was, "Bubbles?  Now that would be fun ..."

1,200 grads equals one huge crowd

Carmel is a huge school,  with almost 1,200 graduates.  The families have evolved their own method for working around the "please hold your applause" issue:  A single clap after each name is called. I can't say I love the Carmel clap  --  it feels a bit dismissive or sarcastic,  and it's still a whole lot of palm-smacking.  But it's interesting.

Today kicks off a five-day stretch of graduation ceremonies for Charlotte-Mecklenburg's big high schools. I will duly pass along the warning:  Do not bring in flowers, duffel bags, fanny packs, backpacks, gifts, balloons, air horns or noisemakers.  Expect to go through a metal detector.

If you experience anything inspiring, quirky, entertaining or noteworthy,  please share.

And above all:  Congratulations to the Class of 2013,  and to the teachers,  mentors and family who got them to this point.


Anonymous said...

Interesting point of view. If you go to a CMS high school graduation you will see a few family members respectful of all as they call the names of the graduates and then you will see the "clowns of the circus" scream and yell to the extent that the next graduate's name cannot be heard. As an educator I have even witnessed fist fights between families and one year a student who did not graduate ran naked around the graduates as many spectators cheered thus turning the whole ceremony into a joke.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago a local minister, pastor of one of the Myers Park churches, wrote about attending his daughter's graduation from Myer's Park. His family had dressed up and followed the rules--no screaming and cheering, etc. However, the family in front of them apparently was rowdy and loud when their graduate received her degree. Their uproar prevented the next graduate's name from being heard. The minister wrote that at first he was upset but then decided that this family may have been celebrating their first family graduate. So he concluded that next year, when his next daughter graduated, perhaps his family should dress down and be a little more raucous so that poorer families would not feel out of place. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it--lower your standards so someone else doesn't feel bad (I doubt that the other family even noticed or cared that they were disrupting others). After all, that's what we've been doing in education for years. And we've had great results, haven't we?!!!!