Sunday, May 25, 2014

These Days You Never Graduate From Graduating

From Sunday's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

Speaker: “Congratulations, Bill, on your graduation. Good job. Great job! What do you plan to do now?”

Bill: “Twy to got in to first gwade.”

This is what it’s come to, fellow Americans. We are renting robes and flat hats for preschoolers. Cute, but about as necessary as a thermometer in the Klondike.

As it was too late for Marley’s ghost, it is too late for me and others this week who will go to tremendously long graduation “exercises,” so called because you are worn out when you leave. Maybe you parents of grads-to-be can do something to stop the insanity.

I have got to hand it to West Monroe High, whose light of learning is ever burning, who is shining her beacon through the dark of days to come, and whose graduation ceremony I witnessed firsthand last May. They sang a choir song, had the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer, a  couple of welcomes, an eight-minute commencement “address,” then ran 400-plus efficiently across the stage and were saying good night to all proud parents and grandparents and well-wishers about 100 minutes after the first pitch was thrown out. Hail a work well done.

But that is not the heart of this testimony. Like gossips and intestinal gas, over-wrought and over-thought graduation ceremonies are likely going to always be with us. Someone in charge will refuse to budge, which means that Junior could have played a round of golf, ate a cheeseburger and read Proverbs in the same amount of time it took him to “get graduated” on his “special night,” the night that nearly killed him since he couldn’t use his cell phone the whole time the commencement speaker was droning about “the real world.”

Instead, the heart here IS the real world, one in which we have graduation ceremonies for people who not only can’t drive, but have so far barely graduated from “car seat” to “seat belt.” A friend the other day attended a pre-K graduation. Pre-K graduation? The kid is going to Kent State? Kansas? Kentucky? Somebody is graduating and moving to Kenya?

No. A ceremony was held – rented caps and gowns and the whole shebang, which is French for “wasted money” – for people who were going to but had not yet entered kindergarten.

 “The award goes to Timmy for Best Broccoli Eater! Susan, you get best Paste Putter-Upper. And no question, the award goes to Zack for Best Jumbo Crayon Eater.”

Why? The answer is that somewhere, there are parents with too much time on their hands. They invent things like pre-K graduation because it is a time-filler and they are “doing something for the kids.” What they are doing is causing every parent in school to take out a loan. This is almost as bad as our bending to something as insane as political correctness. Gentlemen! Wake up!

Another buddy went to fifth-grade graduation this week. Odd. On the bright side, he didn’t have to buy a robe and flat hat. He DID have to buy photographs. Always, there’s a catch. Is there no end?

Eighth-grade graduation is so commonplace that we don’t even question it anymore. I guess we want them to all be together that one last time before they go off to high school, which is the building two blocks down the street. Sigh …

An end-of-the-year program is understandable for children. Singing. Cookies. Everyone hanging around. FREE. But a structured graduation? What worlds are left to conquer for a kid who has already “graduated” four or five times before he’s actually a high school senior?

If they didn’t have fifth- and sixth-grade graduation ceremonies back in the day when that was as far as some of our granddaddy’s got before quitting to work at the saw mill, no way should we have them now. If we do, no way should we charge money for them. An illustration of time efficiency, fiscal responsibly and respect for the masses could be a neat final lesson for our real graduates.

Or we can just keep on with the stupid way we do it now.