It's that time of year again. Time for high school graduates to fling their hats into the air, grab their diplomas, and step into the real world. Except for graduating class of Ridgewood High in suburban Chicago. Superintendent Dr. Robert Lupo banned students from throwing their graduation caps.
From his blog:
"It is an indoor event. In past ceremonies, people have been hit by flying caps. We'd just as soon not have graduates leaving with cuts and black eyes."
As you might predict, most of the Rebels (Ridgewood's mascot) didn't listen to Lupo. Caps were thrown and the school retaliated by withholding the students' diplomas. Not just for the Rebels who lived up to their name. All of students left diploma-less. They still graduated, they had their transcripts, but not the diplomas. Lupo refused to hand them out unless the senior class president issued a formal apology.
I'd like to meet this one eyed academic whose spent his post graduate life raising awareness for flying-foamboard-wrapped-in-soft-cloth related injuries. According to the PWATSD*, People Who Actually Track Such Data, the odds of being critically injured by a flying mortarboard are 1 to 947265, which is slightly better than the odds of being impaled by a unicorn, 1 to 978452.
|The PWATSD discourages you from looking at this image as the sharp horn may cause some viewers emotional distress|
Lupo added: "Perhaps it is the final lesson they will take away from high school: there are consequences for behaviors in life."
They bought those hats. They can do whatever they want with them. They've stuck it out through twelve years of public education. They deserve a chance to cast off the chains of high school. This isn't a matter of dignity at all. Just the school being cranky and trying to exercise control over their students one last time. It also punishes students who obeyed the rules in the first place.
The superintendent has now caved in to logic and popular demand. The students will receive their diplomas, get out of school, and get on with their lives. Next year, I suggest the school order special caps made of bricks rather than flimsy foamboard. Then they'll have a legitimate reason to keep to hold onto their hats.
As for the dignity of the situation, There's no way to look dignified in a flowing nylon poncho and a square hat. Name one other social situation where you wouldn't look ridiculous in this getup. More essential to the dignity of the school is giving students a chance to participate in a long awaited tradition.
*It's a real organization. Very, very real.