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HomeEducationA little respect, please!

A little respect, please!

How about a little respect, please! A show of good manners.

For the second time in as many years, I attended a local graduation ceremony for a grandchild. It’s been an eye opening experience on the issue of pride, respect, and just plain and obviously old-fashioned etiquette. The parental pride was evident. More so was the absence of respect and good manners towards other parents and the graduates they love.

Okay, maybe I am out of touch. But when a student about to graduate dons dress pants, a white shirt, a tie, or a new dress and shiny high heeled sandals, when they don the robes and the caps with tassels, when they walk proudly in to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, it’s a powerful moment, their moment.

Yes, we are proud of our graduates. And yes, we want to cheer for them. We also want to hear the speakers — the officials, the valedictorian, the salutatorian, the vocalists. This is a seminal moment.

I realize that there is a powerful urge to cheer on our pride and joys. But every time one person screeches or blasts an airhorn across the crowd, it is an insult to the staff and the graduates and the rest of the families who want to hear their children’s names read out, who want their moment of pride to fall somewhere in the range of audible territory. It also doesn’t help to be rendered deaf in the midst of this pageantry.

Would it be so hard to hold that cheering, that shriek of pleasure until the classic “caps in the air” at the end of tbhe ceremony? Let everyone cheer at once, in a rousing chorus of blended voices of students and families.

Northeast High School Class of 2008 at the APSU Dunn Center. May 23.

Some schools restrict graduation guests to parents and maybe one or two guests. Our local schools are fortunate to have the use of the APSU Dunn Center, which holds “a cast of thousands.” No need to set limits. Each year the plea goes out to “hold the cheers and applause” and each year it fails. We have become mob scenes of rude pushing and shoving in the quest for the perfect camera angle. We’ve become a mass of inconsiderate people who feel the need for incessant chatter and cell phone communique no matter what the occasion. Silent listening seems to be a lost art. In many cases, the parents look and act the way we might expect our youthfully exuberant children too. In adults, it’s not becoming. In such a formal ceremony, it’s downright obnoxious.

At a time when our children are striving to look and be their best and are being honored for their achievements, the parents, extended families appear at their worst.

I am very proud of my two graduates, the two new college students I have. I have one more graduation to go, in a few years. This year I did get to hear my granddaughter’s name being read as she reached the podium (they also ramped up the audio levels). Last year I was completely unable to hear my eldest granddaughter’s name being read under the roar of the crowd.

I would hope that somewhere along the way these rude rowdy noisemakers will learn a few basic elements of etiquette. I hope so, but I also doubt it. Good manners seem to have gone out of style.


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