When I was growing up, you worked hard for twelve grades and then had one graduation to celebrate this accomplishment. Graduation was the goal at the end of a long and weary road. The icing on the stale sheet cake of school. At last you were special, maybe one in a thousand, and you were reminded of this by the announcement of your name along with every one of those thousand names, while your body went numb on a cheap folding chair. You can’t even scrapbook memories like that.
The graduation ceremony used to be a privilege, a chance for those who had succeeded to be able to sit still through arduous speeches. This patience demonstrated to the world that you were now a grown-up and would soon be ready to endure State of the Union addresses while changing the channel fewer than fifteen times.
Nowadays graduation ceremonies are held for pre-school and just about every grade after that. Call me crazy, but we seem to be changing the bell curve on significance. If you over-inflate the importance of minor events, then the major ones deflate like yesterday’s helium balloon.
Pretty soon there will be a graduation ceremony for potty training, learning to walk and chew gum at the same time, putting the cap back on the toothpaste, and remembering to turn the light off when you leave the room.
Have one graduation, and do it right.
Instead of the traditional song, which sounds like a funeral dirge, why not play something like “I Feel Good” by James Brown? It makes no sense to have the kids walking somberly down the aisle. Have them show how psyched they really are and bust their best dance moves up and down the aisles. The parents could also celebrate the end of the Nag and Drag Era – nagging their child to do their homework every night and dragging them out of bed in the morning to catch the school bus.
Let’s skip over reading every graduate’s name. It’s not like an awards show, where you’re actually surprised by the announcement. Obviously every student at the ceremony has graduated, so just yell, “CONGRATULATIONS, CLASS OF___!” E-mail each family a picture of the principal handing out a diploma, and then have them use Photoshop to insert their child into the scene.
Graduation speeches could be tweaked as well. A well-educated student will know how to give a great speech, and therein lies the problem. It’s hot; everyone’s tired. Even body parts are falling asleep. Nobody wants to listen to a speech, no matter how good it is. Have the student who barely graduated give the speech. “Um, like, YEAH! We’re outta here! Dude, party at my house.” The End.
The cap and gown outfit is a bit outrageous. Nothing screams “dork” like a mortar board on the head. I can understand the quagmire, though. For four years, the students have been roaming the hallways in torn jeans, low enough to display their ratty underwear. The school would not want to display this crowd at graduation and essentially announce to the world, “Look what we’ve produced! Here is your future!”
The answer is essentially to create a new ceremony. If you have prom night on the same night as graduation, many problems disappear. Check out some benefits of Gradupromation:
- The students are already dressed to the nines and looking fabulous. Money saved on the cap and gown could help offset the cost of the prom wear.
- You already have a DJ ready to play any song. Even if you had the graduation song, he could turn it into the party dance-mix version.
- A professional photographer is already there to take prom pictures. The principal could stand ready at the photo session. Students could have their picture taken with their date, then simply turn to the other side and be photographed receiving their diploma from the principal.
- Parents would be at the prom and would therefore be instant chaperones. In fact, the whole ceremony is centered around a dance floor, so parents could dance alongside their children and really embarrass them. Thanks to the new shorter ceremony, they could still rush home and catch their favorite episode of CSI. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.