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Students lose diplomas due to excessive cheering

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Students lose diplomas due to excessive cheering

Postby sportsaddict » Sat Jun 02, 2007 3:27 am

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070601/ap_ ... RORfPMWM0F

Thought this was interesting... I think it seems like the school is a bit uptight but the story is interesting nonetheless.

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.
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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.
"Oh, that Lankford and McGee, the trio of 'em. They're a one-man wrecking crew."

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Postby theclefe » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:14 am

This angers me. Why punish the students? Kick the parents out, but the student does not deserve this.

I would get a bunch of folks to go to graduation next year and cheer wildly for random students. Or, I'd target the son or daughter of a school committee member or faculty. See how indiscriminate they are when it is their children being taken advantage of.

I may go to illinois this week and protest in front of this school. I have nothing to do. Anyone else in?
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Postby josebach » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:18 am

Unless we actually hear how loud they cheered compared to other families, it's kind of hard to form an opinion I think. I do know those kids will get their diplomas one way or another... and rightfully so. If the family members were out of line, it certainly isn't the kid's fault.
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Postby theclefe » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:40 am

http://www.register-mail.com/stories/060207/MAI_BDCQQHAO.GID.shtml

Here is an article from today's paper in Galesburg. Administrators will give diplomas if family members sign a written statement confessing guilt. Some interesting things I found:

Both girls said they are considering the school district's offer but maintain they don't know who yelled their names as they walked across the stage at the May 27 ceremony.

"It wasn't our families," Trent said.


I went to a graduation yesterday. There was a decent amount of yelling, but it was hardly from parents alone. Underclassmen and recent alums were easily the loudest supporters. Several times the din in the gym became deafening when a popular student was called.


Four administrators patrolled the auditorium during the ceremony and took notes on disruptive behavior. Afterward, they compared notes and unanimously agreed five students were in violation of the policy.


This is the biggest joke of all. I could understand one, maybe two people keeping things in check... but four... taking notes!?! Talk about looking for trouble, this school had every intention of finding violators. It was a speed trap. Still, with all the attention afforded to noise policing, they didn't take the time to indentify to actually violators. Instead of ejecting the passionate onlookers, they shook their heads from their cushioned seats around the stage and took it out on the easier targets. That is a travesty.
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Postby Amazinz » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:48 am

Maybe they were trying to avoid confrontation at the event. This doesn't sound like a travesty to me. Sometimes rules suck but geez, get a grip. And the punishment is eight hours of community service. Fair or not fair, suck it up. :-D

I don't understand people sometimes. If this was me in the situation I would be highly pissed but in the end I would just go and pick up garbage for eight hours or work at the soup kitchen or whatever to get my diploma. But instead some of these people will spend countless hours trying to fight some injustice. You know the old adage about choosing your battles...
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Postby theclefe » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:23 am

Choose you battles indeed. Instead of taking on the people who were causing the problem, the school chose to take on the helpless student. The person who did nothing more than walk up to the stage and shake an old person's hand.
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Postby Amazinz » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:30 am

Helpless students? That's a bit dramatic. The students are responsible for the people they chose to invite. Holding them accountable doesn't seem unreasonable to me but of course in this day and age no one should be accountable for anything.
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Postby theclefe » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:50 am

Hardly dramatic. What could the student have done in that situation?According to the students, the cheers were not from the people they invited. After attending a few graduations (one yesterday), and seeing the reaction some students receive, it is very plausable that people other than the ones they specifically invited did the hooting and hollering. If that is the case, than the kids did all they could do.

I have no problem holding the people that shout accountable, and if they are the family or invitee, then the student too. But they didn't do that. The school didn't identify the people causing the disturbance (from what I've read), and decided to punish the students. That is what I find wrong.
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Postby Amazinz » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:56 am

Yes if that is the case than it's unfortunate. But it's eight hours of community service so even if there is an injustice here it's pretty minor.
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Postby PlayingWithFire » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:04 pm

theclefe wrote:I have no problem holding the people that shout accountable, and if they are the family or invitee, then the student too. But they didn't do that. The school didn't identify the people causing the disturbance (from what I've read), and decided to punish the students. That is what I find wrong.


Well, it's going to be disruptive to stop the ceremony and start kicking parents, alums or whoever is causing the problem out during the ceremony and it's a lot easier to monitor the student rather than the crowd.

Plus, 8 hours of community service? Just suck it up and do it man. Last thing we need is for the like of Jesse Jackson to get into this, which could happen....anytime now.
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