Graduation etiquette: Sit down and shut up

After attending his nephew’s high school graduation, Darren suggests that common courtesy could make the experience less painful.

. . . when did graduation ceremonies become like English soccer matches?  When did “pomp and circumstance” give way to screaming and air horns? . . .  Could you not simply clap for your kid when his/her name is called?  Do you really need to scream for several seconds, block other people’s views with your signs — or my personal favorite, try to run up and hug your kid as they come off the stage . . .

Darren also wants valedictorians — there’s never just one any more — to avoid cliches in their speeches. That’s a hopeless cause.

Another tip: Watch out for bears at graduation ceremonies.

About Joanne


  1. Gracias for the link!

  2. Supersub says:

    I’ve seen school events where principals have held up the event until the audience of parents behaved as expected… although that was when I was in school ~15 years ago.

    • As a reader of names this year I was tasked with requesting that parents “out of courtesy and respect” hold the noisemaking until all names have been called. It works earlier in the ceremony but gets out of control later. And, I seriously considered repeating my request with a bit of admonishment. I didn’t – but some people people we need to do so in the future, as the “soccer crowd” mentality has grown worse in recent years and has begun to compromise a ceremony that ten years ago was quite refined.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        In the olden days, we used to have these things called manners and a bit of modesty. Now, manners are for suckers and modesty for tight-*sses. Now, everyone must loudly and sentimentally display their emotions and minor achievements with an excessive celebration and a tattoo. We are a classy bunch.

        • Lightly Seasoned says:

          Oh, that’s just New Jersey. Our graduation ceremony is still quite classy and without noisemakers.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Well, according to Darren on the Left Coast it’s not just Jersey. Possibly you live in an area that isn’t part of “we”.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          Our’s was yesterday and it was pretty classy. We’re an old Boston suburb.

  3. How untolerant and judgemental of you. What gives you the right to impose your cultural values on others. As our nation becomes more diverse we must learn to celebrate our cultural differences instead of seeking to surpress them.

    The next thing you know, you’ll be saying people ought to be able to mention God at these ceremonies……

  4. Ponderosa says:

    It’s one thing if all this raucousness celebrates a genuine achievement. It’s another if it celebrates wasting time and learning nothing –or worse, learning nothing and insuring, through disruptions, that others learn nothing–which is the case with a lot of our middle and high school graduates.

  5. I remember my high school graduation, it was very hot, and took approximately 2 to 3 hours, and it was fairly well behaved (was in 1981, mind you), but I didn’t go to any of my college graduations, since I had more important things to do, like work, goof off, etc.

    Besides, I already earned the degree(s), I just told them to mail me my diploma(s).

  6. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    Let their families scream and shout and celebrate.

    For many of them it’s the second- or third- biggest thing that will ever happen to them in their entire lives.

    • And not just for them. I teach in Appalachia. Last year one nondescript graduate got a huge ovation from a dozen or so relatives. The teacher sitting next to me told me she was the first one in her very large family to graduate from high school.

  7. Let me add this, leave the giant balloon collections in the car, they float at just the right height to block the view of the people behind you.

  8. “Let their families scream and shout and celebrate.

    “For many of them it’s the second- or third- biggest thing that will ever happen to them in their entire lives.”

    I could agree with this except for the fact that it disrupts the ceremony for everyone else around them, who is *also* there because it’s a big occasion. When you cheer so the next kid’s name can’t be heard, or jump up with your signs (or balloons) and block the people behind you from seeing their kid, you’ve gone too far.

    And when you essentially scream in my ear from directly behind me, you’ve gone too far.

    TAV’s comment sounds great in a vacuum, but we need to show a *modicum* of respect and decency to the families around us.

  9. As I said in my post, go absolutely nuts *after* the ceremony, not during it. By TAV’s logic, people would be hooting and hollering during a wedding, one of the other 3 biggest things that will ever happen to them in their entire lives.

  10. Acethepug says:

    I remember both of my ceremonies, my high school one in 1989 and college in 1993. They were fairly dignified affairs, some applause in high school, but for college, I remember there being specific instructions NOT to clap or holler, as the acoustics of the auditorium made it impossible for anyone else to hear if people did this — and believe it or not, people LISTENED and RESPECTED others!

    As for that bear — maybe he was there for his own graduation? I can haz diploma? Poor guy 🙂

    Thanks for posting!