By Joseph Harkins
FLORENCE, S.C. __ A South Carolina mother may think twice before she gives her daughter a hand again.
Shannon Cooper, a beautician from Florence, said she was humiliated after police arrested her for cheering too loudly at her daughter’s graduation last week.
“I got up and I said, ‘Yeah, my baby made it,” said Cooper, recalling the moment her daughter received her diploma at South Florence High School. “It was just a regular cheer – ‘yeaaah!’ ”
Shortly thereafter, Cooper was taken to jail, and her daughter, Iesha Cooper, didn’t learn what happened to her mother until her friends filled her in later. Chances are she won’t be forgetting what she heard very soon.
“That’s all I can picture (is) me crying at the policeman,” said Iesha.
Cooper was charged with disorderly conduct and booked in Florence County Detention Center, where she stayed for several hours until posting a $225 bond.
“She’s (Iesha) going to remember for the rest of her life that her mother went to jail,” said Cooper.
A spokeswoman for the Florence school district, Pamela Little-McDaniel, told the Florence Morning News that because three high schools were graduating together, it was important to ensure that every parent was able to hear their child's name called. The school sent out multiple notices to all parents requesting their cooperation and warning them that cheering or yelling could get them removed by police from the ceremony.
Say, so much for school spirit; no pomp – just circumstance.
For years, high schools across the country have warned parents and friends of graduates in attendance to hold their applause until after each student has received his or her diplomas. Only now, have school officials begun to take their warning seriously.
When Cornist walked across the stage to receive his diploma last week, he heard the familiar cheers again. This time, it cost him his diploma -- and a penalty that includes 20 hours of community service before he can graduate.
“It’s crazy how somebody could do that to me,” said Cornist, the second leading tackler on the Fighting Owls. “It was my dream to graduate.”
Instead, now, his dream has become his nightmare.
“I’m very proud of my son,” said Traci Cornist, who admits whooping it up in the crowd. “Teachers and other students and other family members who weren’t with us were also cheering for him. He (Anthony) is well-known.”
The infraction has all of a sudden put a clamp in Cornist’s college plans, which require completion of a high school diploma. His mother has said her son will not perform the community service tasks.
“I don’t understand how he (Anthony) is being punished for something he had no control over,” said Traci Cornist.