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Too much celebration at graduation?

Dear Annie: "A Graduate's Mom" should lighten up about decorum at graduation ceremonies. I am a professor at a large university, and I participate in graduation every year. The faculty and administrators provide the necessary pomp and circumstance. But these young people have worked hard for four years and deserve to celebrate.

I am proud of what they've accomplished. How often does one graduate from college? And as a parent, aren't you anxious to celebrate an end to tuition bills? You should be standing on your chair and shouting to the rooftops. As long as it doesn't include vulgarity, I'm happy to witness the celebration every year. To "A Graduate's Mom," I say congratulations and WOO-HOO! - A Proud Prof, Lawrence, Kan.

Dear Prof: Our mail was fairly divided on this subject. Read on:

From Michigan: Our local high school is very strict about graduation ceremonies. Boys must wear ties and dress shoes; girls, proper dress wear and shoes - no floppies. If a student does not comply, he or she must make it right, or they will not receive a diploma at the ceremony. No fireworks under the chairs or balloon bouncing. You get to hear each graduate's name, and it's an enjoyable day.

Massachusetts: Graduation is not what it used to be. When I graduated, it was a well-organized occasion, and everyone involved participated in a respectful manner. It was a special celebration for all. In 2005, I attended a high school graduation for a friend's 18-year-old, and it was a free-for-all. You couldn't hear a thing over all the yelling and screaming. It was the worst graduation I ever attended, until I graduated in 2008 from my medical program. I was disappointed that my boyfriend decided to go bowling instead, but it turned out to be a good thing. I had never been so embarrassed. There were babies screaming and families rushing the stage to take photos, and it was so noisy that I could not hear the guest speaker. This is so rude.

Nebraska: My children have all attended New England prep schools and competitive colleges. There is no rowdier a bunch of folks than the parents, grandparents and family members of a graduate. We have celebrated our own graduations and those of our children, nieces, nephews and friends with joy from our spots in the audience. We come with signs of congratulation, cowbells, vuvuzelas and megaphones. One year, a family of 15 shouted in unison, "We love you!" as their graduate walked across the stage. Across the aisle, a family of five wildly waved long ribbons on three-foot sticks when their graduate was announced. Two years ago, a family we know released white balloons as their graduate walked by. Air horns, bells and whistles are the norm. Our graduates have accomplished great things, with the love and support of their family and friends. We invite "A Graduate's Mom" to shake a pom-pom in school colors, hold up a personalized sign, clang a bell and make a joyful noise with us.

Texas: Having run commencement at a major university for 18 years, I agree with "A Graduate's Mom." Graduation should be about the achievement of the graduates and the frequent sacrifices of the families to get the graduates to that point. The best graduation ceremonies are a combination of seriousness and celebration of these achievements. That should be the focus. The ceremonies can be fun and still maintain the central recognition of achievement. Balloons are good, banners are good, ruckus is not good.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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