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Blow a kiss, lose your diploma


In what is one of the most bizarre turns in our Nation's growing suppression of normal human expression, last Friday night Justin Denny, a graduating senior at Bonny Eagle High School, was denied his diploma for engaging in 'highly inappropriate' behavior—he blew a kiss to his mother as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma. To make matters worse, he 'pointed to one of his friends' in a friendly gesture. Apparently, this behavior was egregious enough to move school superintendent Suzanne Lukas to send him back to his seat without his diploma.

In the short exchange on stage, Lukas asked Denny why he thought he deserved his diploma, to which he replied "Because I worked hard and I earned it." Lukas told him "no, go take your seat" and sent him back off the stage empty-handed because of his 'misbehavior.'

His mother was livid. In an interview with WMTW television in Maine, she retorted that "blowing a kiss to your mother is not misbehavior." She is demanding an apology from Lukas as well as her son's high school diploma.

As I See It…

On the surface, this just seems like an absurd situation: A kid being denied his diploma for simply blowing a kiss to his mother. But what is particularly disturbing about this case is the willful humiliation of him in front of the entire community. Even if his behavior was inappropriate while walking across the stage, does that warrant him being denied his diploma in such a demeaning and shaming way? Or even being denied his diploma at all?

That the superintendent displayed a profound degree of insensitivity and hostility toward this kid is beyond question. Even more disturbing is that she felt fully justified in behaving this way. In a meeting following this debacle, Lukas felt that she was just 'enforcing the rules.' "If a student doesn't adhere to the expectations, then the consequences are clearly spelled out," she stated.

As I see it, this is just one example in a growing movement of dehumanization in our country where any behavior that deviates from a militaristic mechanized efficiency is somehow seen as a threat to our social fabric. Expressions of enthusiasm and fun, while they can make graduation ceremonies more chaotic, should be accepted as part of the excitement of making the transition from childhood to adulthood. After all, graduation ceremonies are for the kids, not the superintendent. It is their day and they have earned the right to blow a kiss to their mother if they choose.



  • Karl Williamson in MO. 5 years ago

    Your article on Bonny Eagle High School shows that the influence of Czarist Russia is still alive and waiting to make a return to power.

    Comrad, your Diploma has been repealed. Report to the Gulag.

  • Rod 5 years ago

    So this young man just kissed away 12 years of forced institution, no diploma? Congratulations!

  • Aaron 5 years ago

    It is unbelievable how many disturbed people work "mentoring" our young people. It is no wonder that children turn to rap artists, basketball players and celebrities as role models. At least those people appear to be having fun.

  • Allegra 5 years ago

    Not to be devil's advocate here, but does anyone have a copy of the rules that were given to students prior to graduation? If he broke a written rule, then he deserved what he got (or didn't get, in this case).

    As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that if you give the kids an inch, they'll take a mile. It's bad enough that the parents are in the stands with illegal airhorns and screaming "DAT'S MAH BAYBEEE!!"

    Let's keep education civilized. Everything else can happen at sporting events.

  • CSGordon in Calif 5 years ago

    As an attorney, I would be more than happy to sue this school district for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress - just for openers. The school superintendent should be removed from her position - her lack of good judgment and any sensitivity make her a gross liability.

  • Key 5 years ago

    This lady is just wrong. This young man did a short gesture to show his gratitude to his parents and his thankfulness for finally graduating. Did she do this for every kid who waved or smiled towards their family in the audience. As a leader in the school system she should have better judgement. This young man did not disrupt the ceremony in anyway. If it were her son that this happened too, she would understand how stupid of a decision she made. It was on the news that somewhere in the contract it said save the celebrating until after the ceremony, I thought the ceremony was the celebration. That's how I felt when I received my diploma. Four years of working my butt off to be a straight "A" student, putting up with mean teachers, and messy peers...I would have lost my mind to have my diploma taken away over blowing a kiss at graduation.

  • Jackie in Oregon 5 years ago

    This gal would have been right at home in the novel "Up the Down Staircase."

    Stay in line, raise your hand, don't speak, color within the lines, respond with the answer expected of you, don't ask questions....and so on, ad nauseaum.

    What would they have done if the kid had been streaking? Call out a firing squad?

  • Chris 5 years ago

    Let her know what you think...

    School Area District 6 Superintendent Suzanne Lukas
    Telephone: 207-929-9108

  • jones 5 years ago

    Hello did this superintendent drink from the same water as the idiots in Ridgefield WA. (across the river from Portland Or)

  • Chopperlink 5 years ago

    There is something seriously wrong here. There is nothing disruptive about blowing a kiss. Is she against signs of affection or something. I feel bad for the kid. This was supposed to be a milestone night for him, but it was ruined by some women who liked every thing to be in straight communistic fashion.

  • Matt 5 years ago

    Just wondering if the kid has a history of getting OUT of trouble ALL the time or something (the bad kid that gets away with seemingly everything because he doesn't TECHNICALLY do anything bad). That doesn't justify the superintendent, of course, but it would help to explain her behavior.

  • Barbara 5 years ago

    To deny this student his diploma for expressing gratefulness to his family is absurd. They are a bunch of "educated idiots."

  • Kirk 5 years ago

    Unfortunately, examinations of this all seem to brush away the same things; like perspective. Were there a string of problems before Justin, and everyone was warned? Is a no-tolerance policy instituted to keep guns out of school? Similarly, I don't understand the references to hateful, strict regimes, attacks on personal character, etc. Seriously...with the overblown statements flying around...and a few that started out really well and ended completely out of the ballpark, do we really think the school was a Russian-czarist-influenced Gulag run by pompous, "educated idiots" who have no tolerance for deviation, possibly insane due to a polluted water supply, so controlling they (just might) set up a firing line, worthy of harassment (address included), lawsuits (as if schools aren't hard enough to run), OR IS IT MORE LIKELY that Allegra and Matt are closer to the real situation? Did we not ALSO go to high school? (and besides, the ONLY information I've seen disseminated is ONE SIDE!)

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