ShareThis Page
District to tame unruly grads |

District to tame unruly grads

| Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:00 a.m

Penn Hills School District officials said they will try to tame next year’s high school graduation ceremony, after a group of graduating seniors complained about unruly behavior at June’s graduation.

“The behavior we are addressing includes beach balls during speeches, not complying with the requested attire, the disrespect demonstrated by various students, the antics displayed on stage, and/or the use of marijuana during the ceremony,” the group of about 10 graduates said in a letter sent earlier this month to the school board, superintendent and assistant superintendent.

Officials tolerated the unruly and inappropriate behavior and dress of some students, they said.

School board President Rick Vuocolo said the district is forming a task force to address the issue.

“I have a real sense that next year’s graduation will be very different than the last one,” Vuocolo said. “The student population has said, ‘Enough is enough, we’ve gone too far.'”

Christine Paterra, a valedictorian who co-wrote the letter, said she could smell marijuana wafting from seats behind her, and watched as students began taking their gowns off while walking across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Paterra said she was embarrassed to learn her neighbors had watched the ceremony on local cable access television.

“A lot of the people outside of my school district have a very negative attitude toward Penn Hills. That just added to it, when a televised event happens like that, it’s embarrassing, not only to the school district but to the community in general,” said Paterra, 18.

School personnel took away beach balls from the crowd, but Paterra felt they could have done more to keep the students in line.

Paterra and the other students suggested the district require graduates sign a waiver that outlines what behavior is expected of them, and stating that if they don’t act accordingly, their diplomas may be withheld.

District spokesman Matt Cummings said the district would consider the students’ suggestions. School officials communicate what behavior is expected with students in senior meetings, in the rehearsal ceremony and in letters sent to all graduating seniors.

Cummings said he was at the ceremony on the school’s football field and did not see any evidence of drug use. He said police were also there.

The district will work to reform the ceremony, Cummings said.

But he cautioned that student behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Students know what is expected of them, Cummings said, but “minor disruptions or eccentric celebrations cannot always be predicted, avoided, or forcibly controlled without tarnishing the entire ceremony.”

School board member Margie Krogh said other graduations have been just as rowdy, but welcomed the chance to clean up the act.

“I’ve been in some graduations that were a lot rowdier and no one thought twice about it,” said Krogh. “Still, I think it reflected on this group of students very well that they wanted to restore a sense of decorum to the graduation.”

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.