high school graduation opinions please

SusnnnJune 3, 2002

My child recently graduated from high school. He had done well throughout high school, academically and athletically. He had earned an honors diploma. It is common prodedure during the commencment exersize to annouce the students name and honors diploma status (if the child had earned one.

Here's my problem and I would really appreciaate objective opinions please. During the commencement, as the prinicpal read the childs name, he ommitted the honors diploma announcement. I wondered why he did that. After the ceremony, several parents and friends of my son asked me about it. I was a bit upset. I found the prinicpal and asked him if there had been a problem. His response? "Oh, did I miss him? I thought I did, sorry" This was said very flippantly and with an attitude you would expect out of a thirteen year old.

I asked him to check his list to make sure it was there, and there it was, hihglited in bright yellow..It practically jumped off the page and smacked you in the face.

This sounds bad, but I think he missed it intentionally. Way back inn 1996, my oldest son had a problem at school. It was handled very badly and I was confused about the whole thing, so I had a meeting with this principal. In the meeting, he contradicted previous statements and lied to me about things I already knew. I ended the meeting by stating "How can I teach my children to respect you when I have no respect for you myself". That is the last I ever spoke to this man.

My oldest son had no problems in school after that and my youngest has never been any problem at all.

What do you think happened and how should I respond? Either he did this intentionally or he is inept at reading lists and therfore should not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremonies. Thanks for your response.

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Forgive and look to the future...Isn't that what reallly counts????????

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 11:52AM
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What would you have liked the principal to have done when you brought the matter up to him? Although, more sincerity would have been nice, there wasn't much he could have done at that point. Our school didn't announce honor students vocally, but all honor students had an extra cord they wore around their necks. That type of solution might work well for your school in the future.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:12PM
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What kind of remedy are you hoping to get? You can't get that moment back. Just forget about it. That honors diploma will get your son much more than just recognition at a graduation ceremony. It is the work ethic that he has proven he possesses and the college admissions bump that are important.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:29PM
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I suppose what I was looking for was an acceptable excuse for what has happened. The apology I received was very insincere. I think that maybe the administration should be made aware of this mans behaviour. If he is this petty in my situation, then I'm sure he has not treated other students correctly. After all, a high school prinicpal is a role model, someone students should look up to, some one who should lead students to became better people by setting an example. This had not been the case. I probably should have made clear in my first post that I am looking for opinions as to whether I should make the school aware of this situation. For heaven's sake, the man just had to stand there and read a list, how difficult could that be for a high school principal. He definitely needs to apologize to my son. But I shouldn't have to be the one to tell him to do it.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:59PM
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I wouldn't bother. And I'd let it go.

Think about it--what is the school going to do? Let's assume the worst-case scenario: That you ticked him off badly enough 8 years ago that he'd take it out on your son, who has been a studious and well-behaved student. To get back at YOU, he deliberately omits mentioning the honors status at graduation--8 years later.

Can you prove this? No, of course not. And neither can the school. Unless there were some sort of pattern, they'd just think you were being petty. "geez," they'd think, "the guy forgot! she must really have it in for him."

What do you want them to do--fire him? they're not going to do it over something like this. Censor him? Nope. The most they'll do is say, "hey, Henry, you really hurt that kid's feelings. Be more careful next time, would you?" Or they'll decide to stop mentioning the kids' names in future graduations, and do as Anita9's school does, to avoid such a situation in the future. Will they stop him from reading names at commencement in the future? No, because frankly, anyone can slip up like that.

If you want an apology for your son, you unfortunately ARE going to have to be the one to tell the principal so. Perhaps his instincts should have told him, but maybe he doesn't think the kid much cares, just his mom. If your son's feelings have really been hurt, you need to get that info to the guy, along w/ a request for an apology. Go through the superintendant, or the school secretary, or go straight to him.

True, you shouldn't have to be the one to tell him. But if it didn't occur to him then, it won't occur to him later.

And as for complaining about how flip he was--well, lots of us are flip when we're confronted. We're defensive, and some of us are better than others about creating a sincere-sounding apology.

To be honest, I'd bet the principal doesn't even remember that conversation 8 years ago. And if he does, he probably doesn't hold it against your SON--I've read posts here and other places about teachers who feel bad for the kids they teach who have pushy or unpleasant parents, so I know for sure that teachers and administrators can definitely separate the kids from the parents. Your kid was around the prinicipal a whole ton of a lot more time than you were. Your son would seem so much more real to him than you do, and so he'd react to your SON on your SON'S own merits.

Sorry to be unsympathetic when you're mad, and I hope your son's feelings weren't too hurt. Were they?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 1:27PM
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my son's feelings were definitely hurt, especially when his friends and their parents were asking if there was a problaem with him qualifying for the honor diploma.
I would like to defend my self to Tally Sue's post. I am not a pushy or unpleasant parent. I have enough intellligence to know not to approach this prinicpal with anger or hostility, and without raising my voice. I also kept aware that maybe there was a paperwork error. My first comment to him was "was there a problem with my sons honors scholarship status?" his first response was "Oh, did I miss that?"
And does he remember me? I'd bet money on it. The last time I interacted with this man was in 1996. But when I approached him yesterday, he knew exactly who I was with out asking. I'm not involved in any school organizations, haven't been to the school for a conference since my son was in the 8th grade, I'm definitely not famous, so I was a bit surprised that he knew who I was.
I'm not looking to have this man fired. If I had that kind of power I would have that man sent to the moon. I am frustrated that a man of this character (or rather lack of) is looked to as a leader for our youth.
I suppose I could have just ignored the whole situation, and perhaps I will in time. But what's wrong is wrong and he was wrong.
Put yourself in his shoes. he's an educated man. If you were him and you had done that accidentally. And as a high school prinicpal who knows what hard work goes into earning these awards, wouldn't you feel a bit remorseful, less defensive and definitely more polite.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 2:52PM
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I think what some people are trying to say is:
Before you escalate the issue, you should decide what is your expectation. In lieu of that, people have suggested apologies, and other things.

If you think closure is needed, then sit down and define the complaint. Then define what you would like to receive (i.e. apology, letter of commendation and apology to your son, something along that lines). Then you'll be ready to sit down with the principal.

I would suggest wording the complaint as the omission of recognition (I wouldn't bring up what you assume his intention was - which was to somehow get back at your son for 1996).

As far as your question in the original post, "what do you think happened..." I hope I explain this well.
I know from my own experiences growing up, that there were things that were said to me that were hurtful, and to this day, I feel the sting I felt the original day when the thing was said (by teachers). But I know that they probably didn't see it as big as I, in my own mind, saw it. If my parents had gone back to discuss the things that were said, most likely the teachers would not know what incident they were referring to. They taught a couple hundred kids a day. Principals oversee many more than that (in my school, around 1500 kids).

Parents and the children, certainly see things bigger, and take things personally. So is it possible that he intentionally did this? Yes it's possible. Speaking as a third party who used to be a kid :-) I don't think it's likely.

Still, your son probably feels slighted, so I think it would be reasonable to go to the principal, say that it was unfortunate that your son's accolades were omitted, and ask for a written apology and commendation addressed to your son.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 3:21PM
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Sounds like you have been holding a grudge for a long time. I believe you need to get things right with the school, start communicating, get involved in a postitive way and maybe if something like this ever happens again you will not be offended as much. Forgive and forget. You will make it better on yourself and others.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 10:10PM
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It does sound to me like the principal "missed" your son's name on purpose...but I have to agree with the group here, it's over and there's really not much that can be done now! You might consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper about the incident, and if it makes you fell better don't use your real name. Maybe write or express your concern to the school board. I'm angry for your son that he worked so hard at school and wasn't properly recognized at his graduation!!! I hope that despite it all, he realizes that what matters most is that he DID INDEED earn the honors position!! Good luck, and let us know what happens if you pursue anything.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2002 at 12:02AM
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The principal sounds like a jerk & this was "pay back." There's not a thing that can be done about it now, though. As long as your son's family & friends KNOW, that's all that matters!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2002 at 12:27AM
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Try putting yourself in the principal's position and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. If it continues to bother you,go and talk to the principal and work thinks out together.
I would try to focus on your son and his future and go from there.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2002 at 11:28AM
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The school principal is probably just a stupid person. Everywhere you look there are stupid people that hold important positions.

I think you should put a small ad in the local paper congratulating your son on his "honors" status, noting how proud the family is of him, and wishing continued success for him at college (or whatever). Get a real picture of him in a nice suit instead of those generic looking gowns. It will make a nice memory that he can clip and save. Might even give him something to discuss with the principal at the twenty year reunion.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 10:30AM
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    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 11:40AM
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At most of the high schools here, the honor graduates have a different colored tassel on their cap or a sash of some sort that goes across their gown to set them apart from the others. The diploma is marked honor graduate, and the printed program notes those who are honor graduates. Did your son's high school do anything besides just have the principal announce it? Perhaps he did miss announcing the honor on purpose, but I agree with the others who feel that you should let it go. You are correct that a high school principal is a role model, someone who should lead students to became better people by setting an example. But so should parents. Sometimes it is truly better to put things behind you and look forward. And, I thought Michael's idea about putting an announcement in the newspaper is very good. Good luck to you and congratulations to your son on his fine accomplishment.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 8:34PM
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Michael, are you bitter about something???!:)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 2:00AM
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Well here's the update. After evaluating my feelings and taking in the advice that I received here, I,like Michael, have come to the conclusion that there are many stupid people in many important positions. My son's school did utilize gold cords with the cap and gown to distinguish the honor students. In my opinion that just added to the insult of the honor not being announced. Here's a kid walking across stage with an honors cord, but not announced as a recipient. Why was that kid wearing the honors cord?
Any way, my son has received a letter from the prinicpal. It was very apologetic. He commended his academic and athletic achievements and stated that there was no reason for his omitting the honors announcement. He stated that my son "deserved better". I thought his letter really reflected his lack of social grace. It really seemed to be insulting towards himself.
The apology is what I wanted. Not an apology to me, but to my son. I do commend him for having enough common sense to send the letter.
I guess I shold just be glad that my son is out of school and away from this jerk. I just feel bad that there are other kids that have to be subjected to him.
I do want to add one thing just so you may better understand my feelings towards this man. We live in a smaller city. Things get around the community. I know of things that have happened at a different school that involved this man. And I also know of other incidences with other kids.
Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 8:58AM
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I hope you will find closure to this and not hold a grudge any longer.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 9:17AM
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I'm glad to hear the principal did what was right for your son.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 10:47AM
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geez, you get an apology, even saying your son "deserved better" than he himself had done, which is certainly placing all the blame for the incident squarely to the his own shoulders--exactly what an apology should do. But somehow that's wrong too? (you wrote: "It really seemed to be insulting towards himself." -- what did you want him to do, make excuses?)

I have to say that I think it's churlish in the EXTREME to criticise someone for their APOLOGY.

He even went to lengths to make sure the letter would be the sort of thing your son could keep in his files and show to someone as a letter of recommendation, etc. I'd call that a pretty graciously written letter. And yet you can still criticize it?

He wrote the letter without prompting from you, right? You bet your bippy you should give him credit for doing that. Some people wouldn't bother with the letter.

He made a MISTAKE. I for one do not believe that he'd deliberately leave your kid off for mention because of something that happened between you and the principal *9* years ago. Or even 2 years ago. Teachers and principals are capable of separating parents from children, and they see the children so much more clearly than they see us. Plus in the intervening 9 years, I'm sure he's had more parents than you say worse things to him--why would he remember with any strength?

It's obvious you're determined to hate this guy, since even the appropriate gestures he makes are met with such scorn.

I wasn't there 9 years ago (which is a long time to hold a grudge on EITHER side), and I don't know all the other incidents--maybe he is a crumb, or maybe he's just sort of easily confused. But I'm sorta feeling sorry for this guy--even when he DOES do it right, he's in the doghouse.

I'm w/ Arkansasgardenboy: I hope you will find closure to this and not hold a grudge any longer. I suppose my comments won't do anything to further that, and I'm sorry if I've chosen wording that's harsher than I intend.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 10:51AM
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Geez Talley Sue! Calm down. You are more worked up over my feelings than I ever was over the whole situation. And by the way. I mentioned that my other child had an incident with this man in 1996, in an earlier post by you you referred to this as 8 years ago, now you're saying 9 years ago. As a matter of fact it was 6 years ago.
Just because this guy apologized does not make me think that he is a better person. He's made mistakes over the years and just because he writes one letter of apology, it doesn't excuse everything, just that one incident. Sorry if you think I'm over reacting, I guess you aren't able to empathize with me, maybe I am bad a communicating. Sorry.

Furthermore, a college educated man of his position should have been able to use a bit more tact in an apology letter than what he did.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 11:28AM
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What is your son doing this summer? Is this a too personal question? Why don't we focus on his accomplishments and future goals? We have little we can do about the past except be better from now on. We all make mistakes. Why not be a little more forgiving and putting forth more effort in eliminating our own weaknesses.
Love covers a multitude of sins. I hope you and everyone involved will be better instead of bitter. This situation could be a very important step in the right direction. Remember a good reference means a great deal.
Don't we need to be kinder and more forgiving? Sounds like the principal has done his part. What else would you want him to do?
I would get in touch with the principal and tell him that I appreciate him for what he has done for my son.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 2:06PM
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I am satisfied with the letter of apology to my son. This letter doesn't change my opinion of what has happened in the past. And that matter was never resolved. And yes I have chosen to leave it in the past. I have had no problems with this man since 1996. The graduation ceremony opened a lot of old wounds. The school is not that large and based on what happened and what was said in 1996 you can bet that the principal remembers me and everything that happened.
As far as future goals, my son has a full time summer job and then is off to college in the fall. He's all set and on the right track.
as far as thanking the principal..maybe for sending the apology letter, but not for doing anything for my son. There are many teachers, administrators and coaches at the school that deserve a huge thank you for all that they have done and continue doing over the years. These are the people that affect the kids everyday. The school is a great school and one bad apple doesn't spoil the environment at all. I just didn't like having to deal with the worm!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2002 at 2:31PM
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