Six months after becoming Marietta's Superintendent of Schools, Greg Backus attended his first High School graduation. The word he uses to describe it is: disgraceful.
"Kids lighting up tobacco products as they're leaving; a student standing up and giving somebody a middle finger," says Backus. "Things of that nature, and a lot of respect for each other as fellow students."
For that reason, the Board of Education in August enacted new commencement guidelines. They include semi-formal attire for students, meaning no jeans or shorts. And items like beach balls, silly string and water guns, staples of past ceremonies, are now also forbidden.
"We want to express our feelings. We've been through 12 years of school, and we think it should be our graduation, not their graduation,” says student Sabrina Clark.
Superintendent Backus says he's not trying to take the fun out of the event. But he says commencement should be more ceremonial, and less like a rock concert.
Students say it's not just the dress code and party favors. They'll no longer be allowed to choose who hands out their diplomas and honor cords.
"They now go in alphabetical order," says Senior Class Vice-President Meredith Beardmore, "and I can't choose the teacher that's impacted my high school career. I have to go with any old teacher there."
Backus says he's willing to listen to the students, but the ones we spoke to says no line of communication has been established yet.