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updated: 6/6/2012 6:13 PM

Schaumburg district clamps down on graduation cheering

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Jane Addams Junior High School in Schaumburg graduated its Class of 2012 Monday, but four students who walked up to get their diplomas were refused -- because their "cheering sections" in the audience were too loud.

Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 officials said they've had the "no cheering" rule in effect for several years at all five of their junior highs.

Students are allowed to pick up their diplomas at the school office later.

District spokeswoman Terri McHugh said the policy came about because at previous ceremonies the cheering for one student often obscured the name of the next one being announced.

Furthermore, scheduling multiple commencement ceremonies means each one has to be finished in 90 minutes, she added.

Addams Principal Steve Pearce said Wednesday he's gotten a number of letters and emails praising the policy and the dignity of the ceremonies.

Of the four students refused diplomas, three of the families have since come in to pick theirs up, he said.

"They were fine," Pearce said. "They were very apologetic."

Not everyone in attendance at Monday's ceremony thought the policy is great, however.

Rose Russo of Schaumburg wrote to the Daily Herald, saying she was bothered by the embarrassment the four kids suffered. She argued the graduates were being unfairly punished for the behavior of others.

"I think it's every parent's right, every person's right, to celebrate something like this," said Russo, who was there watching the child of a family friend graduate. "The kids were so excited, so proud and then they were so dejected."

She said the audience was uncomfortable too.

District 54 officials said Russo's complaint is the first they've heard.

Not only is the audience warned at the start of the ceremony, there's also a moment at the beginning reserved for everyone to show their emotion and get it out of their system, Pearce said.

"They go bananas for literally five minutes," he said.

"It was a lovely ceremony," said District 54 school board member Barbara Hengels, who helped hand out diplomas. "It's an important ceremony for the children and this keeps it dignified."

Pearce said he wasn't at Monday's ceremony because his son was graduating from a school in another district.

There, he said, he saw the ceremony deteriorate into one-upmanship, as the audience kept trying to make ever louder noise.

In Barrington Unit District 220, respect and decorum are asked for at the start of graduation ceremonies, spokesman Jeff Arnett said. Applause is tolerated, but any air horns and beach balls are quickly confiscated, he added.

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