High School Graduation Crowd Stays Silent as Student With Autism Receives Diploma

Students and guests at Carmel High School graduation ceremony stayed silent to make student Jack Higgins, who has autism, feel more comfortable as he accepted his diploma on June 20.

Higgins was part of the New York school’s PACE program for students with cognitive, learning or behavior challenges. He is sensitive to noise, which meant that the noise of the crowd at graduation could potentially be overwhelming for him. School principal, Lou Riolo, came up with a solution, asking the entire crowd to stay quiet as Higgins received his diploma. He gave Higgins’ graduating classmates the option to softly “golf clap”, if they chose.

Riolo said that “what followed was nothing short of a miracle.” Higgins was able to cross the stage amid silence while his classmates rose and softly clapped for him, allowing him to experience one of the most memorable moments of his life.

Carmel High School teacher Timothy Raney captured this video of the event at the O’Neill Center in Danbury, Connecticut, with the help of some members of the school film club. Credit: Timothy Raney via Storyful