Monday, June 3, 2013

Graduation Blues

Today is the day the Boy graduates. I'm sure I will have something lovely and heartfelt to say about this later, but for this morning (and this week's I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop ) I have a complaint. It relates to the instructions we parents were given for the graduation.

 The  graduation instructions we received from the school state in part: "In recent years the formality traditionally associated with commencement has been obscured and the ceremony has taken on a more frivolous nature--complete with cheering crowds, popping flash bulbs, and graduates strutting across the stage. To maintain over all decorum...the following suggestions are made."

"Photographs should be taken before or after the ceremony, not during. Professional photos will be taken during the ceremony and be available for purchase."

The Boy came home with the order sheet for photos. For 20.00 we can have the privilege of a picture of our child actually receiving his diploma.  It will of course be copyrighted photo and therefore not legal to post anywhere.
Therefore there will be no photos appearing in this space or anywhere else of the supreme moment of the Boy actually crossing the stage and receiving his diploma.

"Do not cheer, whistle, yell or do anything to draw attention away from the graduates as they receive their diploma covers", and later "Please hold your applause till all graduates have been recognized."

I realize that in the eyes of many, graduation demonstrations have gotten out of hand. I might have thought so myself at one time, until I actually joined the struggle to get my kid through the last four years. The Boy attends an inner city school. Many kids that he started Freshman year  with have dropped out. The pressures of teen parenthood, drugs and alcohol, truancy and family chaos are all around them. Many of his classmates have parents who themselves did not finish high school. Moreover his school has a large group of English as Second Language kids, immigrant children who have made huge adjustments in culture, language, and education and still completed the state graduation requirements.  Although I am an applaud politely type, I think anyone who wants to yell or whistle when there kid finally makes it is totally entitled to. And every kid is entitled to a round of applause.

However, just to make sure we all behave, the children will only receive their diploma covers at the ceremony, the actual diplomas will be given to them afterward, and can be withheld in cases of inappropriate anything.

And then there are the contradictory instructions. On one page: "Boys should wear a white shirt and tie." The boy hasn't owned a white dress shirt since he was in the 7th grade choir. So we bought one, only to discover later, on a different page of the confusingly organized instructions: "Boys are to wear a light colored shirt, dark dress pants, and a tie." Not that a white dress shirt won't be of use to him as he enters the grown up world, but could someone proof read the instructions and make sure they match?

There are rehearsal instructions, ticket instructions, and ceremony instructions distributed randomly over 5 different pages. If a college graduate with a minor in English finds it hard to collate all this information, how the heck are first generation English speakers and high school dropouts supposed to make sense of it all?

I guess the point is this: This isn't merely a school event, it is a family event.  It is something the grads and their parents and families have achieved together. For many of these kids it will be the supreme moment of their academic careers If you really want your perfect dignified ceremony, then close the doors, only let the grads in, and hand them each their diplomas is secret. Otherwise let it roll.


  1. We've attended a few graduations this year and the last one was fun and festive- I liked it. We cheered loudly for our grads! But the one thing that drove me CRAZY was the families that kept yelling once they'd moved on to another name- it made it impossible to hear the next names, ruining it for other families. I wanted to smack them.

    Congratulations on making it!

    1. I am happy to say that the instructions in the program to maintain the decorum by which this class has always been known was gleefully disregarded by the majority of parents, so we felt safe politely applauding. For the most part the furor did die down before they moved on to the next child.

  2. Did they let them toss their caps? I hope so. As for the photos, I think that's awful that they've turned it into another way to pillage your pocketbook. But look at it like this - you'll get a really great picture of the moment. With my luck, I'd have a problem with my camera and I'd miss it altogether. Although, we got photos of the moment we were handed the diploma...did we pay for them? I don't remember. Not $20. Things are so expensive now. Since social media is a relatively new thing, most of us didn't have an opportunity to post photos of that moment anyway, so just think of it as an old school thing. No pun! ;) I hope the ceremony will be wonderful! Congratulations to all of you!!

    1. You know I didn't really mind the pictures and charging for them, just that we were forbidden (supposedly) from taking photos during the ceremony. When I graduated from high school I paid 10.00 for the photo, so I guess 25 years on $20 isn't really that bad. Happily this rule was disregarded by the parents almost as enthusiastically as the one about cheering for the grads. Some of the parents walked down to the stage and took pictures.
      They were forbidden to toss their caps, but were given streamers in the school colors they could throw. (I don't know if that was planned or if a group of the kids cooked it up.)
      All told, except for a few odd speeches by administrator types, it was a nice ceremony.