Pomp and consequence: Officials crack down on outbursts at graduations

In Cincinnati, a popular football star has his high school diploma withheld when the commencement crowd cheers too heartily for him. In South Carolina, a proud mom got arrested after getting too loud at her daughter's graduation.

Perhaps it's the schools, or maybe it's the audience, but as graduation season takes hold, it seems clear someone is overreacting. In both cases, officials defended the harsh punishments, saying too much noise for one grad means the next one's fans can't hear his or her name. Etiquette experts who talked to FoxNews.com couldn't address the specifics of either case, but universally lamented what they see as an increasing lack of decorum at public events.

“It takes away from the other graduates and certainly is an intrusion on the ceremony,” Georgia-based etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey told FoxNews.com. “It’s not time for whistling and loud cheering.”

Ramsey — author of "Manners That Sell" — said disciplining the student in either incident was “totally inappropriate,” but said people ought to know to remain solemn and respectful at formal ceremonies like graduations.

“Now that this is happening and we are seeing these incidents, it’s now going to require that there be something either stated at the beginning of the ceremony or in print outlining what is appropriate at a graduation and what is not,” Ramsey told FoxNews.com. “It is like any other meeting when someone has to stand up and say, ‘Turn off your cellphones.’ They now have to be told.”

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In the Ohio case, Mount Healthy City School Superintendent Lori Handler, who did not return a request for comment on Wednesday, told WCPO-TV that extended cheering for football player Anthony Cornist disrupted the May 24 ceremony at Mount Healthy Senior High School in Cincinnati.


The boy’s mother, meanwhile, has said the cheering wasn’t disruptive, and said her son shouldn’t have been penalized for the vocal support. Cornist has legally graduated, but he will not receive his diploma until he completes 20 hours of community service, WCPO-TV reports.

And Cornist was not the only student to not receive his diploma that day -- three other graduates' diplomas were held for their families' cheering as well. Those students received the similar community service punishments.

In Florence, S.C., police said they warned attendees prior to the graduation ceremony at Florence High School that anyone who cheered or screamed would be escorted from the venue. And while not commenting on the case of Shannon Cooper directly, police told WPDE-TV that those who were disorderly as they were escorted out of Saturday’s ceremony were arrested.

Cooper, who was booked into jail for several hours before posting $225 bond, told the station she was wrongfully arrested.

“Disorderly conduct? What’s the disorderly conduct?” she said. “How was I so disorderly, you know, any different from just a happy parent? I didn’t resist arrest, nothing.”

Karen Scarfo, a Connecticut-based etiquette coach, said cheering within reason is absolutely acceptable, but noted that a common sense approach is the best bet for parents.

“I get excited when I see my kids accomplishing things; however, you need to keep it in check,” Scarfo told FoxNews.com. “Look around you and see who you are with, yelling and screaming is not acceptable behavior. Parents are borderline rude; other people should not have to be subjected to people who are out of control.”

Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and director of the Etiquette School of New York, said both incidents are indicative of something larger at play within America.

“We are a very boisterous society, very enthusiastic to the extreme, whereas in most countries outside of the United States, they would never act like that at a graduation ceremony,” she told FoxNews.com. “Americans are just … I don’t think they know the difference between formal ceremonies and sporting events. We’ve gotten a little too casual.”

FoxNews.com's Giovanna Giampa contributed to this report.