I can almost hear the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" now. It's graduation season. AKA the time of year when school administrators go absolutely nuts trying to treat these soon-to-be "adults" like they can't be trusted to make a single decision for themselves.
Case in point: In Wasilla, Alaska, students had to fight a battle with administrators for the right to sing the classic song "Bohemian Rhapsody" at graduation. The problem? Well, Freddie Mercury of Queen was gay. DER! Clutch your pearls, ladies and gents, because heaven knows we can't let these kids who are about to walk out the doors of the school and make all their own decisions actually confess that they don't give a fig about someone's sexuality.
The kids in Wasilla just cared about the song, cared enough that they put up a fight -- and won. The school backed down, ostensibly because they feared the ACLU, who the kids were calling in for help to rail against the homophobia. As one teen said:
It didn’t make sense for the school district to tout tolerance for all and then turn around and allow homophobia to dictate something such as graduation music.
I'll take it one step further. It doesn't make sense to stand on the sidelines as kids are prepping to promenade to "Pomp and Circumstance" and listen to school staff berate them on inanities. As a reporter for a small town newspaper, I enjoy entree to the backroom at the annual graduation ceremonies. With my camera and notepad, I tend to blend into the background -- to the point where there's very little that won't be said in front of me.
And yet I'm flabbergasted to hear a litany of rules. Don't throw your mortarboards. Don't you dare whip out a beach ball. Don't dance in the aisles. What isn't said directly, but doesn't need to be, is "don't express yourself." That this is THEIR graduation day is an irony apparently lost on most school administrators.
Like the kids in Wasilla fighting for the right to sing a Queen song because "the whole attitude of the song just seems to fit our class," the point of a graduation ceremony is to celebrate the kids who are marking their last day in high school. It's to celebrate that they are now old enough, educated enough, to truly make their own decisions in life. If a school has faith in the time they've put into these kids over the past 13 years, they'd be smart to let the kids prove it. If there's any time when kids should be allowed to think for themselves, it's the day they're leaving high school for the "real world."
Do you think school administrators overreact this time of year? What's the most ridiculous graduation story you've heard?
Image via j.o.h.n. walker/Flickr