A high school graduate from Philadelphia claims she was denied her diploma on stage after performing the iconic “Griddy” dance while walking. Hafsah Abdul-Rahman said school officials advised them not to celebrate, clap, or shout as students walked across the platform to get their diplomas, so she warned her family not to do so.
But when her name was called during the Philadelphia High School for Girls’ graduation ceremony last Friday, Abdul-Rahman ended up dancing across the stage at the Kimmel Center. In a video, she can be seen doing the “Griddy” dance as she walks across the stage to get her diploma from the principal.
The 17-year-old subsequently revealed that she couldn’t stop dancing because she was so happy to be graduating after four difficult years, including a pandemic. However, because her dance elicited some laughs from the audience, the principal denied her the certificate. “She was like, ‘You’re not getting your diploma because you made the crowd chuckle,'” Abdul-Rahman explained to NBC10.”It was as if she was about to hand it over to me, but she took it right back.” It was simply humiliating. She was under no obligation to do so.”
Despite the fact that Abdul-Rahman earned her graduation off-stage during the ceremony, she believes she was unfairly punished for her dancing. “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 explained. “She just stated that our families are unable to support us. And no one in my family cheered.”
The Philly teen said she was also hurt because she wanted to dedicate the ceremony to her sister who was killed by a stray bullet in 2014 at age 15. “I dedicated this to her because she was never able to graduate. You took that moment that I will never be able to get back again,” Abdul-Rahman was quoted by Fox 29. The outlet reported that three other students were denied their diplomas on stage due to similar actions.
In a statement, the Philadelphia School District said it “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,” the district added.