One Kid Shouldn't Get to Move Entire H.S. Graduation

Jeanne Sager

graduationWe're supposed to feel bad for kids like teenaged Patrick Knighton. He's a good kid, the class president who is going to miss out on flipping his tassel and accepting his diploma with the rest of his class. Why? Because the school won't change the date of its graduation to help Knighton out.

Is anyone else just not feeling much sympathy here? Harsh? Maybe. Realistic? Absolutely. Because this happens every year. A family ends up in the media complaining that their school is full of a bunch of Meany McMeanersons who won't change a ceremony for dozens (hundreds?) of kids just to accommodate one child's schedule.

In Knighton's case, that would mean his New Hampshire high school canceling the Saturday graduation ceremonies because religious obligations keep him from attending. He's a 7th Day Adventist, and Saturday is his Sabbath.

Credit goes to the Knighton family. They petitioned for the change, but they've raised a kid who is a class act. He says he respects the people who made the decision, and he's taking it in stride.

But the fact that they petitioned at all throws me. Yes, we all want our kids to have the very best advantages in life. But with hundreds of students, schools have to try to make as many people happy at once as they can. It's up to parents to teach their kids to roll with that, not the other way around.

Weekend graduation ceremonies, in general, make the most sense for the biggest number of families. They allow for parents to attend without having to take time off work. They allow time for family to come in from out of the area. But someone is always going to have an issue. There will be religious issues -- on Saturdays for not just 7th Day Adventists, but Jewish folks too, of course; Sundays for Christians. There will be families who have another graduation to attend that day. There will be doctors appointments and dance recitals, family emergencies and weddings.

Flipped around, and the same can be said for any of those events, that a graduation popped up on the schedule and is getting in the way. It's called life. And that's what we're prepping our kids for, right?

Not to throw a fit every time something doesn't go their way, but to make hard choices? To decide if it's more important to go to Great Uncle Bob's funeral or attend Susie's piano recital, to hold to your religious convictions or look the other way for one night to attend a graduation ceremony?

Do you think parents should argue for schools to move graduation ceremonies for their one kid? What's the bigger lesson: teaching kids to stick up for themselves or teaching them to stand by their convictions?


Image via j.o.h.n. walker/Flickr

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