HICKS: Ritual has importance misbehavior destroys

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Cap and gown? Check.

Camera, videocamera and cellphone for instantly uploading photos to Facebook? Check.

Umbrella to keep grandma from getting wet or overheating in the sun inside the football stadium? Check.

Air horn, confetti, posters, noisemakers, beach balls, rubber snakes? Check.

Let the commencement exercises commence.

Earlier this month, graduating senior Chuck Shriner of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, Fla., made news by “Tebowing” on the stage just before he was to receive his diploma.

His effort to create a memorable moment was successful, as he’ll forever remember the day he was not handed his diploma but instead was informed he would be cleaning the school gymnasium after the graduation ceremony. Young Mr. Shriner was handed his diploma two days later by his mother, a teacher at Bishop Verot, whose anger at her son presumably had subsided by then.

That story is rare not for the antics of an 18-year-old high school graduate but because the student’s parent was supportive of the school’s administration.

Seriously. Rather than the headline “Florida teen ‘Tebows’ during ceremony, denied diploma,” the story ought to have been, “Student’s mother sides with school, nation shocked.”

It could have been worse. It could have been the high school graduation in Denmark where pranksters spliced a portion of a sex tape featuring a fellow student into a video of pictures from the students’ time at the school. Yikes.

It’s a sad reflection on our times that auspicious occasions such as high school, college and even graduate school commencement exercises routinely include inappropriate behavior, not only on the part of graduates but, disconcertingly, by their families and friends.

Woe to the grad whose name is called immediately after that of the student whose family is so overjoyed about the achievements of their loved one that nothing but a train whistle will do to announce their elation.

Makes you stop to wonder: Is the fact that this kid is graduating from high school really such a surprise?

If it’s true that no one really expects proud mothers, fathers and siblings to hold their applause until every name has been called, it nonetheless smacks of selfishness to carry on so loudly and for so long that other families can’t even hear their students’ names announced over the loudspeaker.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whose kid you drown out as long as your child gets the attention you think he or she deserves.

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