No such thing as ‘silent roll call’ at graduations
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And while I am aware that this may be one of the most overused clichés of all time, most people tend to understand it and relate to it. With this in mind, and after celebrating my oldest child’s graduation from high school on Thursday in Charles County, it is perplexing why the Charles County Public Schools insist on, year after year, having a policy of a ‘silent’ roll call at high school graduation ceremonies.
The graduation information page on the school system’s website states “Students and school administrators ask that you observe a silent roll call as graduates receive their diplomas. A silent roll call honors all students and allows for each graduate’s name to be heard clearly and without the distraction of noise while their name is announced.” If I may respond to that statement — no it does not. A ‘silent’ roll call is by no means “silent.” People call out for their children, grandchildren, relatives and friends. These students are there to receive recognition and there is a natural desire of audience members and other students to want to help to give that recognition, on an individual basis. And, while it would be more polite for all to follow the rules and remain silent, a certain jealousy arises when those first few students who receive the cry-outs seem to receive greater recognition and more love than the students called ahead of them, who received nothing but silence. Further, for some of the students graduating, who are not receiving any individual awards, the cry-outs when their name is called is the only truly individual recognition they will receive at graduation.
A recent North Point High School Newsblast stated about the ‘silent’ roll call, “The Class of 2016 wants to hear all of the names of all of the members of the class. In order to do this, audience members are asked to be silent while the graduates are receiving their diplomas. This is something that has become a tradition at North Point High School graduations. We are sure that our community can continue to accomplish this goal.” Let us be clear — they have never accomplished this goal for more than about 15 names in a row and they will not accomplish it in 2016. It is pure folly to believe that they will.
A ‘silent’ roll call has graduating seniors looking through their homeroom classes and trying to decide if the student that is graduating immediately ahead of them in the alphabet is popular or has a large family, so they will know in advance whether their family will be able to hear their name at all. While other letter writers have stated that we can ask all to be polite and to think of others at graduation, we have also asked people to think of others by not throwing trash on the ground and not running red lights, and there is still litter strewn about the county and red light cameras that snap at least one picture every time the light turns red.
My wife attended a graduation in Calvert County last year for my nephew. At his graduation, the roll call was paused to allow the cry-outs and cheering to abate before the next name was called. The graduation took longer than it would have under our county’s current system, and those present had to sacrifice a little bit of comfort and time, however, each student had their well-earned time in the spotlight before the announcer moved on, and each family could hear their child’s name, loudly and clearly. Our graduating seniors have worked for thirteen years in our county’s educational system and have earned a moment in the sun before they move on to the challenges that lie ahead. We should begin giving them that each year.
Joseph Hangarter, Waldorf