Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grad exercises reflect cultural differences

A school official complained that Tuesday’s story about South Panola’s graduation served no purpose.

In that story the writer noted the noisiness with whistling, catcalling and yelling but noted that this year was more civil than previous years and there was no air-horn as was in ‘07. The story quoted school principal Dr. Gearl Loden who said the crowd’s behavior is a reflection of today’s society.

Superintendent Keith Shaffer later described the graduation ceremony as “acceptable,” and questioned whether the writer was even present at the ceremony.

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Those who haven’t attended graduation exercises in many years and are used to the solemn ceremonies of years past can’t appreciate the behavior.

It’s somewhat of a cultural thing.

When you have families with all ages of people who think it is irreverent to shout and clap in church with those who think it is irreverent not to clap and shout in church, mixed with the unchurched sitting together in seats of a huge arena normally used for sporting events and concerts, you may get distorted emotions.

A grandmother attending the graduation of the class of 2000 was taken aback and still talks about the activity that went on during the ceremony eight years ago. But again, she was used to seeing graduations on a smaller scale in controlled environments with less diversity among those being honored. To others, it was acceptable.

Comments concerning the news story on our website range from, “…my child has been in school for 13 years and I have the right to shout,” to “I was robbed of hearing my child’s name called because of inappropriate behavior of others,” with more favoring the latter.

If Tuesday’s story served no purpose other than preparing parents and other family members of future graduates for what is going to happen, then maybe it did serve a purpose.

If not, then we apologize to those offended.