Hey Parents, No Air Horns at Graduation

Parents can cheer at Bay Area graduations, but they're encouraged to be respectful.

By Lisa Fernandez and Jodi Hernandez
|  Friday, Jun 8, 2012  |  Updated 10:05 AM PDT
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It's lucky for Bay Area students that the graduation czars don't have rules like they do in South Carolina, where a mother was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, apparently for whooping too loudly during her daughter's high school graduation.

It's lucky for Bay Area students that the graduation czars don't have rules like they do in South Carolina, where a mother was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, apparently for whooping too loudly during her daughter's high school graduation.

It's lucky for Bay Area students that the graduation czars don't have rules like they do in South Carolina, where a mother was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, apparently for whooping too loudly during her daughter's high school graduation.

"We ask that parents don't have air horns and that umbrellas go down," said San Jose Unified School District spokeswoman Karen Fuqua. "We'd like people to be quiet when the student's name is called so that everyone can hear the name. But nothing's truly enforced."

That doesn't mean that Bay Area high school graduations are willy nilly either.

At Pinole Valley High School on Thursday, students were given a walk-through of graduation ceremonies. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents will be allowed to chant, cheer, clap and stomp when their seniors walk across the stage on Saturday. But they are given rules to adhere to. On the back of the graduation tickets, guests are told to respect speakers, remain in their seats and given a reminder that "all noisemakers and balloons are prohibited."

Charles Ramsey, president of West Contra Costa County School District, told NBC Bay Area that he and others will remind parents to be respectful and check bags for noisemakers.

Still, calling the cops for a raucous clap? No way.

"The graduation police we're not going to be," he said.  "I understand some of the need to establish some protocols and limits. However, we don't want to lose sight of the reason why they are there... to celebrate the accomplishment."

Andrew Gonzales,  a Pinole Valley High senior in Richmond who is speaking at graduation, said he expects his family to be loud at Saturday's graduation.

"My mom already told me...she's going to go crazy in the audience," the 18-year-old said. "There's a lot of sentiment that goes along with a child graduating from high school and this marks the day when you transition from childhood to adulthood."

All the focus on graduation crackdown comes after Myrtle Beach mom, Shannon Cooper, was taken this week by cops to a detention center for whooping loudly when her daughter, Iesha, was called to receive her diploma at South Florence High School, according to news reports.

And late in May, Anthony Cornist was denied his Mt. Healthy Senior High School diploma because of his family's "excessive" cheering at the Cincinnati ceremony. The superintendent told news outlets that the cheering wasn't the problem perse, but it was the prolonged duration of the cheers, which halted the ceremony. A policy was implemented this year in which parents agreed not to engage in "any disruptive behavior." And if there was such behavior, the policy stated, a child's diploma would be held until he or she could complete 20 hours of community service.

Bay Area schools in Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Clara, Fremont, Milpitas and Cupertino do not expressly spell out how pride can be emoted at graduations. And many local school leaders thought an outright ban on cheering was downright ludicrous.

 "Our parents are appropriately joyous," said Palo Alto Unified District Superintendent Kevin Skelly.

Added Gonzales, the Pinole Valley High speaker, about his mother on graduation day: "Her raising me for such a long time, emotions will be evoked out of her like never before because she's never had that experience and she should be able to cheer however she wants to."


Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/ljfernandez. Follow Jodi Hernandez Twitter.com/jodihernandez01.

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