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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default 5 graduates denied diplomas after friends, family cheered for them

    GALESBURG, Ill. - Caisha Gayles graduated with honors last month, but she is still waiting for her diploma. The reason: the whoops of joy from the audience as she crossed the stage.

    Gayles was one of five students denied diplomas from the lone public high school in Galesburg after enthusiastic friends or family members cheered for them during commencement.

    About a month before the May 27 ceremony, Galesburg High students and their parents had to sign a contract promising to act in dignified way. Violators were warned they could be denied their diplomas and barred from the after-graduation party.

    Many schools across the country ask spectators to hold applause and cheers until the end of graduation. But few of them enforce the policy with what some in Galesburg say are strong-arm tactics.

    "It was like one of the worst days of my life," said Gayles, who had a 3.4 grade-point average and officially graduated, but does not have the keepsake diploma to hang on her wall. "You walk across the stage and then you can't get your diploma because of other people cheering for you. It was devastating, actually."

    School officials in Galesburg, a working-class town of 34,000 that is still reeling from the 2004 shutdown of a 1,600-employee refrigerator factory, said the get-tough policy followed a 2005 commencement where hoots, hollers and even air horns drowned out much of the ceremony and nearly touched off fights in the audience when the unruly were asked to quiet down.

    "Lots of parents complained that they could not hear their own child's name called," said Joel Estes, Galesburg's assistant superintendent. "And I think that led us to saying we have to do something about this to restore some dignity and honor to the ceremony so that everyone can appreciate it and enjoy it."

    In Indianapolis, public school officials this year started kicking out parents and relatives who cheer. At one school, the superintendent interrupted last month's graduation to order police to remove a woman from the gymnasium.

    "It's an important, solemn occasion. There's plenty of time for celebration before and after," said Clarke Campbell, president of the Indianapolis school board.

    In Galesburg, the issue has taken on added controversy with accusations that the students were targeted because of their race: four are black and one is Hispanic. Parents say cheers also erupted for white students, and none of them was denied a diploma.

    Principal Tom Chiles said administrators who monitored the more than 2,000-seat auditorium reported only disruptions they considered "significant," and all turned in the same five names.

    "Race had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever," Chiles said. "It is the amount of disruption at the time of the incident."

    School officials said they will hear students and parents out if they appeal. Meanwhile, the school said the five students can still get their diplomas by completing eight hours of public service work, answering phones, sorting books or doing other chores for the district, situated about 150 miles southwest of Chicago.

    Gayles' mother said she plans to fight the school board - in court if necessary - to get her daughter's diploma. The noise "was like three seconds. It was like, 'Yay,' and that was it," Carolyn Gayles said.

    American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Edward Yohnka said Galesburg's policy raises no red flags as long as it is enforced equitably. "It's probably well within the school's ability to control the decorum at an event like this," he said.

    Another student who was denied her diploma, Nadia Trent, said she will probably let the school keep it if her appeals fail.

    "It's not fair. Somebody could not like me and just decide to yell to get me in trouble. I can't control everyone, just the ones I gave tickets to," Trent said.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing! 79th and Sunset's Avatar
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    I've been to a couple of graduation ceremonies where people are just plain rude. In this case they told them this would happen if they acted out.

    Sorry, taking the schools side on this one.

    Why is it that some people just dont care about their fellow man ?

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by 79th and Sunset View Post
    Why is it that some people just dont care about their fellow man ?
    We're becoming a more reclusive, self-entitled society... Hell, people barely know their own neighbors anymore and don't care to - only concentrating on their own lives...
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  4. #4
    Baluchitherium KT's Avatar
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    granted, if a notice was sent out to parents and students and was signed by both, then it was in bad taste for the parents/friends/whomever to disregard the school's request. HOWEVER, why should the student be punished for something others were doing? How can they even prove it was this student's family---did they have people policing the audience? Did grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins also have to sign the "contract"?

    In my opinion, this is one of the more ridiculous things I've heard in awhile. Has anyone EVER attended a graduation ceremony where there were NOT families that acted like jackasses? I haven't! It's a GRADUATION and if other parents can't hear their child's name being called, then maybe they need to slow down reading the names. I mean, really, in a town of only 34,000 how many students can there be? For quite a few of these students, this may be the only graduation ceremony they ever go through.

    REALLY stupid.
    Meet me in Cabo!

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk smithjc's Avatar
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    So true. I've been to several graduations where it gets a bit ridiculous. I believe commencement s/b acknowledged as an important event deserving of dignity and decorum. I've seen an open mike for the graduates to say something and then people start yelling for others to step up, cheering, etc. It's a bit much.

    But that's just me.
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  6. #6
    Good Enough kowski's Avatar
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    My high school graduation was insane, so I am siding with the school on this one. The air horns and screams from high-pitched girls were annoying enough as heard from the floor, and they almost deafened my family in the stands. If people want to ruin someone else's graduation after signing a contract not to, then fine, but don't blame the school.

    I don't exactly agree with the students doing public service for their diplomas though, but I would be all for their raucous families and friends doing it. If it was me, I'd just forget about it...one less useless piece of paper to bring home and throw away!

  7. #7
    Atomic Punk ZeoBandit's Avatar
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    "What we are dealing with here, is a complete lack of respect for the law" - Jackie Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit

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  8. #8
    Unchained mojavebassman's Avatar
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    Galesburg students will get diplomas
    Crowd rowdiness had kept five from getting certificates

    By JAN DENNIS
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published Thursday, June 07, 2007


    GALESBURG - Five students will get diplomas they were denied because of cheers at their high school graduation, after school officials relented Wednesday on a get-tough decorum policy.

 

 

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