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Family faces charges for cheering at graduation

A graduation is supposed to be a time of celebration and excitement, but for one Mississippi family, it was nothing short of a nightmare.

I have vivid memories of my high school graduation. Marking the end of an era and the beginning of adulthood, I was beyond thrilled to walk across the stage. Even though my graduating class was quite large, I could hear my family cheer my name as I received my diploma. Sure it was a little embarrassing, but still nice to hear their enthusiasm. Who knew I would turn into my parents when my younger sister earned her high school diploma?

What can I say, happiness is contagious.

One Mississippi family did not have the same luck, as Senatobia Municipal School District Superintendent Jay Foster made the decision he did not want interruptions of any kind at the Senatobia High School graduation ceremony. WREG 3 TV in Memphis reports Foster asked the audience to refrain from applause until the end of the event.

The family members of 18-year-old senior Lanarcia Walker couldn’t contain their excitement and are now facing charges.

Family members Ursula Miller and Henry Walker, along with two other relatives, were asked to leave the ceremony because of their cheers. “He said ‘you did it baby,’ waved his towel and went out the door,” said Linda Walker, the graduate’s mother. Ursula Miller, Lanarcia’s aunt, was asked to leave after calling out her name as she walked across the stage.

As if being told to leave a graduation ceremony wasn’t punishment enough, the family now faces charges for disturbing the peace.

“A week or two later, I was served with some papers,” reveals Ursula Walker.

Local police recently issued warrants for their arrest due to their actions with a possible $500 bond. It goes without saying the family’s reaction was anything but pleasant.

“I can understand they can escort me out of the graduation, but to say they going to put me in jail for it (sic),” said Ursula. “We don’t have money for anything like that,” added Linda Walker.

While I can understand the superintendent’s position, filing charges seems a bit excessive. It’s not uncommon for loved ones to express their joy over the occasion, though I have been to events where people go overboard — sometimes using props like a bullhorn and noise makers to cheer on a graduate. That gets pretty annoying and can also be a hard act to follow if the next person in line doesn’t have such a boisterous group of attendees.

As much as we don’t like rules or think they’re silly, it’s important to abide by them.

It’s hard to tell just how disruptive this family was from a video clip. Hopefully this matter can get resolved swiftly and without anyone facing criminal charges for their happiness.

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