It was supposed to be a special moment for Hafsah Abdul-Rahman. The 17-year-old senior was graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls on Friday.
Abdul-Rahman told NBC10 she was aware of the school’s rule for families to not cheer, clap or shout while students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and warned her family not to do so. As for Abdul-Rahman, she couldn’t help but celebrate a bit. Video shows her doing the popular “Griddy” dance while walking across the stage to receive her diploma from the school’s principal.
A Philadelphia high school graduate says she didn’t receive her diploma on stage because she did the popular “Griddy” dance as she walked.
The dance drew some laughter from part of the crowd. Abdul-Rahman said her principal was not amused however in a moment that was also captured on video.
“She was like, ‘You’re not getting your diploma because you made the crowd chuckle,’” Abdul-Rahman told NBC10. “It was like she was going to give it to me but she took it right back. It was just embarrassing. She didn’t have to do that.”
While Abdul-Rahman eventually received her diploma off-stage, she doesn’t believe it was fair to be penalized for her dance.
“I didn’t feel like I broke any of the rules because she didn’t say this prior to the graduation that you can’t do this walking across the stage,” Abdul-Rahman said. “She just said our families cannot cheer for us. And my family didn’t cheer.”
She also believes the principal ruined her moment.
“It was like, you don’t know who I was graduating for,” Abdul-Rahman said. “It wasn’t your moment to take. You already graduated. You still getting paid at the end of the day. I’m only doing this once.”
NBC10 reached out to the School District of Philadelphia for comment. A spokesperson wrote that the district “does not condone the withholding of earned diplomas based on family members cheering for their graduates. We apologize to all the families and graduates who were impacted and are further looking into this matter to avoid it happening in the future.”
NBC10’s Leah Uko learned a few other students were also penalized for similar actions at the graduation ceremony. A district spokesperson said they received their diplomas off stage as well.