Video shows principal deny grad diploma for dancing on stage: ‘She stole that moment from me’

Video shows principal deny grad diploma for dancing on stage: ‘She stole that moment from me’


A recent high school graduate in Philadelphia is speaking out after she was denied her high school diploma on stage for dancing during her graduation ceremony.

The incident, captured on video, took place as Hafsah Abdur-Rahman and her classmates from Philadelphia High School for Girls, participated in the ceremony on June 9.

“She stole that moment from me,” Abdur-Rahman told WPVI, referring to the school’s principal. “I will never get that again.”

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Dancing with yellow flowers

Footage shows Abdur-Rahman, dressed in all white and carrying yellow flowers, dance across the stage after her name is called.

The crowd then laughs.

As she approaches the principal who holds her diploma, video shows the principal extend an arm implying she should return to her seat. The school head then drops the diploma in a basket on the ground beside her.

The school lists the principal on its website as Lisa Mesi. Mesi could not immediately be reached for comment by USA TODAY on Friday.

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‘I feel like that’s unfair’

The graduate told the outlet that the principal had warned students their families could not cheer or clap when they walked on stage and it was the laughter from the crowd the led to the principal’s refusal.

She said other students were also denied diplomas during the ceremony, but they all received them later.

Still she said she was “so embarrassed.”

“I couldn’t even enjoy the rest of the graduation,” Abdur-Rahman told WPVI.

“If they thought that I shouldn’t do ‘The Griddy’ across the stage and do the Girls’ High traditions, nobody should have been able to wave or blow kisses or do period signs because I feel like that’s the same thing. I feel like that’s unfair,” said Abdur-Rahman.

The school did release a statement to WPVI, apologizing for the incident.

“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.”

Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.


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