No such thing as ‘silent roll call’ at grad­u­a­tions

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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

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