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Is pomp ruining graduation ceremonies?

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Greg Peck
May 29, 2013

I read an interesting column the other day from Judith Martin, “Miss Manners.” A reader suggested that, for high school and college graduation ceremonies in recent years, “polite applause and inward pride are steadily losing ground to ear-piercing whistles and hooting and hollering like banshees upon hearing a loved one’s name read.

“Some students have taken to unashamedly making assorted gestures intended to elicit additional outbursts from the audience. Moreover, they are being fully indulged by their friends and relatives.”

Such outbursts during what used to be “dignified events” can be uncomfortably loud for those nearby and also drown out the names of subsequent students filing past the podium.

“It’s all so tasteless and rude,” this reader suggested. “What might you suggest be done to bring decorum back to these increasingly unbecoming spectacles?”

Miss Manners replied that “principals have lost whatever small authority they had” and also “have little inclination to put a damper on a celebratory day.”

Still, she reasoned, turning a mass celebration into a popularity contest might remind some graduates how relieved they are to be leaving school.

It has been years since I’ve attended a graduation ceremony. A co-worker told me Tuesday he went to Eau Claire over the weekend for a relative’s graduation. I asked about the ceremony; he said they watched it from a relative’s home by computer and actually had made the drive for the post-graduation party. If you’ve attended a graduation ceremony recently, do you find such outbursts harmless or offensive?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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