Anthony Cornist was denied his high school diploma last week. The senior at Mt. Healthy Senior High School didn’t fail to complete the necessary academic requirements for graduation or neglect to pay his school library fines. No, Cornist didn’t receive his diploma, school officials say, because of his family’s excessive cheering during the graduation ceremony.
Instead of a diploma, Anthony was given a letter from the principal stating that before he could receive his actual certificate, he and/or his family needed to complete 20 hours of community service. Three other students received similar letters.
The school superintendent, Lori Handler, defended the action. She told the local ABC affiliate, “In years past, we have had students whose families got over-exuberant and the child behind them’s name could not be heard when they were called,” Handler said. “So I feel very strongly that we will stop graduation because every child’s name will be heard and every family will be able to celebrate appropriately.” The school had warned families that so-called excessive cheering could result in a penalty.
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“Parents did know all this information up front,” Handler said to WCPO. “They signed off saying I understand that this is what’s going to happen.” While the school district contends that the Cornists signed the agreement with the school, Anthony’s mother, Traci Cornist admits that if she signed it, she never read it.
The legality of holding the son, whose behavior Handler admits was “angelic,” accountable for his family’s actions is questionable. While Anthony has technically graduated from the school, he just won’t receive the piece of paper until he or his family serve out their sentence. The Cornists are not happy about the situation, obviously, but Handler fears letting the family off would send the wrong message. “I think it’s lessons learned in terms of proper decorum,” she said.