CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Seriously," my friend said, "I thought I was at a gladiator event instead of a graduation ceremony." She was describing all the offensive behavior she witnessed during her daughter's recent high school graduation.
"The audience was loud, rude and obnoxious. The constant screaming made it almost impossible to hear when my daughter's name or any other child's name was announced. It was as if people weren't just cheering for their grad; they were turning it into a contest. And I also almost missed seeing her receive her diploma because of the constant parade of people in the aisles -- and climbing over me -- trying to take pictures."
She went on to describe how disgusted and appalled she became by the lack of reverence shown for this special occasion, and who could blame her?
"There was constant chatter, and to top it off, the lady seated behind me used her cellphone to call another lady seated two rows in front of me. They actually carried on a conversation with each other!"
Shortly after speaking with my friend, I ran into a neighbor who had attended the same graduation, and he, too, commented about the audience's rude behavior. He said at times, the yelling became so loud and aggressive that it appeared as if those cheering were actually more shocked than happy to see that their student was really graduating.
Another friend noticed the careless attire of those attending. "There were so many sloppily dressed people that it looked like a sea of ragged T-shirts, dirty ball caps and torn jeans. To me, proper dress at such an event helps to convey a sign of respect to those graduating, and I sure didn't see the respect at this event," he said.
This isn't the first time I've heard of rude behavior at graduation ceremonies. I recall a colleague describing an irritating ceremony that she attended where someone blew an air horn each time the name of a graduate was announced. Also, a recent report by The Associated Press described a high school graduation ceremony in Duncan, S.C., where the cheering got so loud and out of hand that police ticketed 14 people for disorderly conduct.
It is understandable that people are proud of their grads and want to show their enthusiasm, but it is important to remember that their son or daughter is not the only star of the day. Loud and excessive screaming can drown out the announcement of the next student. In addition, the constant running up and down the aisles by those trying to get a photograph of their grad receiving their diploma may block the view of others. Many schools now have a specified place to stand when taking photos.
Rudeness from the audience has also been documented at dance recitals as well. In fact, one mother pushed her way to within one step from the stage while filming her precious ballerina during the child's dance number. This action not only blocked the view of others, it also scared the other little dancers.