Archive for Monday, April 28, 2014

Looking forward to graduation’s pomp and circumstance

April 28, 2014

For the next five weeks, the theme at our house is “graduation.” We have three grandchildren graduating, which is going to keep us on the road and very busy. None of these ceremonies are local, so we’ll see a lot of different traditions and it should be interesting.

We start with granddaughter Kate, who will be receiving her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. She has been accepted at the University of Arkansas and will work toward a career in speech therapy. Her graduation is special to me in one way since I missed her high school commencement four years ago. I was warehoused at Providence Medical Center following a stroke and waiting to start therapy at St. Luke’s. Thanks to modern communication, I did get to see a video of her receiving her diploma. This year I will be there.

Next in line is grandson Stan’s graduation from Free State High School in Lawrence. Stan will attend Wichita State on a track scholarship next year.

The final in the series of graduations is granddaughter Kelsey, who will be receiving her diploma from Allen, Texas, High School. Kelsey will be going to Texas Tech next fall to pursue her studies in the health care field. Now, the Allen graduation is particularly unique this year since it will be held at the American Airlines arena in downtown Dallas, which is the home of the Mavericks. It was scheduled for Allen’s new $60 million football stadium, however it was moved and the facility closed after structural flaws were discovered. I’m sure that is a tremendous civic embarrassment. I haven’t heard if it will be ready for football in the fall.

The Allen graduation will be the largest I’ve ever attended. The senior class has about 1,200 members, which is a far cry from the 75 kids who crossed the stage at Garnett High School nearly six decades ago.

Doing a bit of research I found that the United States is one of very few countries who have high school graduation ceremonies. Of course, high school graduation has been an important part of the American academic scene for more than 150 years. I always found it interesting to look at the high school graduation photos from early in the 20th century. There were very few boys who completed four years of high school, since most quit school to join the work force at a younger age. It was a time when an eighth grade graduation was sufficient for a good future. Eighth grade graduation ceremonies were common.

When I was young, a college diploma was the key to a career. Now, most students need advanced training for a good career. I really feel sorry for modern students – academic achievement is more difficult, it is very expensive and there are no guarantees of jobs.

Graduation is an old tradition dating back to the 11th century and was initiated by the University of Paris and the University of Cologne as a way to honor academic achievement and as a guarantee that the student was qualified to enter professions.

There is one aspect of modern graduation ceremonies I don’t like. I think the ceremonies should be dignified and not interrupted by horns, beach balls or loud cheering that makes it hard to hear the next graduate’s name. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe in proper behavior by guests at ceremonies.

I’m sure that I will enjoy all the graduations and I want to congratulate all the young people who are completing a phase of their training. And congratulations to their parents, who are probably breathing a sigh of relief, glad that there are no more tuition payments due.

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