Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Graduation: Now That Would Make Some Reality Television

Despite being a high-school teacher for 24 of the 25 years of my teaching career, I don't go to graduation unless it is absolutely necessary. It has been absolutely necessary twice: when my sons have graduated. Last night reaffirmed my longstanding aversion to commencement.

Oh, it's not really the graduating class. For the most part. And if it were, they at least have an excuse. They are young, wearing ridiculous hats with tassels, and are the stars of a pretty major production, one that rivals any off-Broadway spectacle for planning, cast size, and length.

No, sadly, it's the audience. These people turn an event whose theme is "Pomp and Circumstance" into "The Jerry Springer Show." They blow air horns whenever they feel like it, scream "their baby's" name randomly during the entire ceremony--including the benediction, set up such a hollering campaign when their graduate's name is called that the next student's name is obliterated by their bellowing, and otherwise insinuate themselves into what is supposed to be a relatively dignified and momentous occasion for the rest of us.

One of the wonderful benefits of being a teacher at my school is that I was able to present my sons' diplomas to them at commencement. Instead of a board member handing it to him, I could inconspicuously walk up from my seat on the track (we hold graduation at our stadium), hand him his diploma, give him a hug, and walk back to my seat. I was thankful that my son--both of them, actually--did not stop and do "The Cabbage Patch" dance move, pump his fist, scream "YESSS! Finally!", stop-whip out a cell phone to make a call, do the "Heismann Trophy Stance", or anything else. But none of those, all of which happened more than once, was the crowning touch of the night. This was:

The announcer called "Jose Jimenez" (fictitious name used here). The boy stepped forward. Suddenly, a teenaged girl broke from behind the fence and onto the track. Infant in her arms, she rushed onto the field. Jose, grinning broadly, motioned to her. Diploma in one hand, he took the baby in the other and then walked back to his seat where he held the infant in his arms for the rest of the ceremony.

I found that far more objectionable than the very overweight middle-aged woman wearing the patent-leather white platform high heels, micro-mini denim skirt, braless halter top, and ponytails who minced her way onto the track to take a photo and then wobbled back to her seat. Okay, maybe not far more objectionable. (She was just plain awful.) And don't get me started about the girl in the "muffin top" jeans with the back fat and boobage. I mean it, now. Do these people not have mirrors? And do they not care that they are going to a graduation? Not a garage sale?

And, do people never, ever SHUT UP anymore? Do they have to talk during everything that does not directly concern them? They talked during the alma mater. They talked during the National Anthem. They talked during the benediction. They talked during everyone else's names. They talked during the speeches. It set my teeth on edge. The teacher in me wanted to stand up and say, "All RIGHT! That's ENOUGH! QUIET!"

Thankfully, it's over. I don't have to attend another single graduation. Ever. No, do not say "the grandchildren." I'm not going. Unless I'm deaf. And even then, I'll have to wear some very dark glasses. Very dark.


  1. Anonymous3:09 AM

    Amen! I am so with you on this! Why do people feel compelled to treat every ceremony like an athletic event? They dress, talk, eat, cheer, and let their kids run wild like they're at a parade or a community ball game.

  2. Oh God. You have just mentioned a facet that I have not dared contemplate: food. So far, I 've not observed anyone munching on their picnic dinners.But I suppose vendors hawking popcorn and soda at commencement are not far-fetched. In these days of corporate sponsorship, and of schools needing private monies to fund things like scoreboards and additional technology, it's not hard to believe that one day soon, we might hear the announcement: Welcome to Graduation 2010, brought to you by our friends at Pepsi and Skittles!

  3. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Hmmm, does this mean they'll be an intermission and half-time show?

  4. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Succinct and witty.


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