A high school graduation ceremony, a significant milestone in a student’s life, took an unexpected turn when a 17-year-old graduate was denied her diploma on stage by the principal. The principal’s decision not to hand over the certificate was a result of the student’s participation in a dance during the event.
The 17-year-old Hafsah, filled with overwhelming excitement on her graduation day, performed a joyful dance with a bouquet in hand as she approached the stage to collect her diploma. This display of exuberance elicited light laughter from the crowd, contributing to the celebratory ambiance of the ceremony.
To her surprise, when Hafsah reached out to receive her well-deserved diploma, Principal Lisa dismissed her, waving her away and preventing her from obtaining the degree she had diligently earned. This unanticipated denial left Hafsah and those in attendance puzzled and disappointed.
Hafsah expressed her distress, stating, “She stole that moment from me. I will never get that again.” The incident left her feeling embarrassed, making it difficult for her to enjoy the rest of the graduation ceremony.
Prior to the ceremony, Principal Lisa had informed families about the strict rule against cheering and clapping while their loved ones walked across the stage. She made it clear that such expressions of excitement were prohibited during the proceedings.
According to Hafsah, Principal Lisa informed her that she would not receive her diploma due to the subtle laughs from the audience during her dance. Hafsah claimed to have understood and adhered to the rules, as she had signaled for silence in the video recording. She expressed her comprehension of the expectations and felt she had complied accordingly.
Hafsah and her family believed she was specifically targeted, noting that other girls waved, blew kisses, and performed gestures towards the audience as they walked across the stage during the graduation ceremony. They felt that she was unfairly penalized for the reactions of others in the crowd.
In a peculiar twist, Hafsah revealed that the assistant principal had actually encouraged students to walk with style when collecting their diplomas. She questioned the fairness of the situation, arguing that if she was restricted from performing “The Griddy” dance, other gestures should have been equally prohibited.
According to Hafsah, three other girls also faced the denial of their diplomas during the ceremony due to cheers and murmuring from the audience. However, after the ceremony, all three girls eventually received their degrees, indicating that the initial denial may have been a temporary decision.
The school issued a statement expressing their disapproval of withholding earned diplomas based on family members’ cheers for graduates. They apologized to the affected families and graduates, assuring them that the matter would be thoroughly investigated to prevent a recurrence.
Following the graduation ceremony, the assistant superintendent of the school personally apologized to Hafsah and her mother, recognizing that the principal’s actions had marred what should have been a memorable and cherished day in the young teen’s life.
AT 4:30: This is video of Hafsah Abdur-Rahman dancing across stage to receive her diploma at the Philadelphia High School For Girls’ graduation.
But she says her principal didn’t give it to her because she broke the rules by making the crowd laugh.
— Briana Smith (@brianasmithnews) June 15, 2023