Enquirer Herald

Sailing through graduation

Rock Hill Police officers escort a man out ot the Clover High School graduation ceremony on Sunday after he cheered for one of the graduates.
Rock Hill Police officers escort a man out ot the Clover High School graduation ceremony on Sunday after he cheered for one of the graduates.

Graduation ceremonies for York County's four school districts passed smoothly over the weekend, despite concerns that boisterous onlookers might wind up behind bars like last year.

No arrests were made during the commencement ceremonies at Winthrop University Coliseum, said Rock Hill police Lt. Brad Redfearn.

"That's what we wanted," Rock Hill schools spokeswoman Elaine Baker said Monday.

"Everything went very smoothly."

Two people were seen being escorted out of Clover High School's graduation ceremony at the Winthrop Coliseum on Sunday. Winthrop University police officials couldn't be reached for details.

Three area high schools were caught in a national media blitz last year when spectators were arrested after cheering during the ceremony as the graduates' names were read.

Six people were removed from Fort Mill High's ceremony in handcuffs; one man was arrested during York Comprehensive High's commencement and one was charged and released from Northwestern High's.

Seven of the eight people charged with disorderly conduct during graduations were jailed.

Fort Mill school officials took calls about the arrests last year from TV programs "Inside Edition" and "Good Morning America" and radio stations in Mexico and Canada.

Rock Hill city solicitor Chris Barton dismissed the charges after the eight defendants agreed to write letters of apology.

The defendants' attorney, Harry Collins, agreed to the deal but maintained that no laws were broken because his clients were not warned that they could be arrested for outbursts.

This year, superintendents from the Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Clover and York school districts met with chiefs of Rock Hill and Winthrop University police to discuss how to handle security during graduation.

They settled on a set of rules which superintendents read before each graduation ceremony.

Attendees were to wear "appropriate attire (no shorts, tank tops or T-shirts)"; not leave their seats to take pictures during the program; hold their applause and not stand or shout until all diplomas are awarded.

The rules, the letter states, were "intended to create a dignified atmosphere in which families and friends could hear the names of the graduates and all graduates would receive the honor and respect due them."

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