High school grad says she was denied diploma because she did popular ‘Griddy’ dance

Mildred Europa Taylor June 16, 2023
photo: fox29

A Philadelphia high school graduate said she was denied her diploma on stage after she did the popular “Griddy” dance as she walked. Hafsah Abdul-Rahman said school authorities had told them that families or friends should not cheer, clap or shout while students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas so she warned her family against those. 

But Abdul-Rahman ended up dancing across the stage at the Kimmel Center when her name was called during last Friday’s graduation ceremony for the Philadelphia High School for Girls. In a video, she is seen doing the “Griddy” dance while walking across the stage to receive her diploma from the school’s principal.

The 17-year-old later explained that she couldn’t stop herself from dancing because she was so excited to be graduating after four tough years that included a pandemic. But her dance produced some laughter from the crowd so the principal denied her the diploma. “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.”

Even though Abdul-Rahman finally received her diploma off-stage following the ceremony, she feels it was unfair to be punished 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.” 

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.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 16, 2023

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