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Isn’t graduating fun?

Posted: May 20, 2014 10:03 a.m.
Updated: May 21, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Graduation time is upon us and there’s such a buzz of excitement in the air. High school and college students are collectively gearing up for the next stage in their life and emotions are strong. I have to say, I’m particularly glad that I’m not graduating from anything this year.

Last May, I graduated from The Citadel’s graduate program and it was quite a lengthy ceremony. I have an inherent fear of tripping whilst crossing a stage as others watch me, but luckily that didn’t happen. However, it might have at least provided some entertainment for those audience members who found themselves close to nodding off during the almost three-hour long affair.

My high school graduation I hardly remember, but I clearly remember senior class day. Our class day was just filled with all kind of hi-jinks.

First, there was the mix-up of speeches at the beginning. All the speeches are written out on note cards and left on the podium in the order of how they will be presented. Somehow, the welcome speech and the closing speech got switched and the poor, nervous valedictorian of our class stepped up to the microphone, said hello to the audience and followed it with an almost immediate thank you and goodbye.

Our poor guidance counselor intervened and straightened out the cards with a laugh and I’m sure she was hoping that the rest of the ceremony would run smoothly, but that was not the case.

Part of senior class day included senior skits, which required the stage’s large heavy curtains to be drawn closed and then drawn open again. Some miscommunication in the decorating of the stage allowed for a large, potted plant to be placed right in the line of the curtains’ trajectory.

As the curtains were heavy, the poor student operating them had undoubtedly been told to pull the rope vigorously to get them to close quickly. The potted plant was a sad casualty of the overzealous curtains and was toppled over. Watching the video later, I saw the plant get knocked over and roll a few feet further into the center of the stage, depositing soil and shaken leaves along the way.

There’s this rather poetic slow dripping of soil-tinged water off the front of the stage combined with a collective gasp of horror passing through the audience that you can hear so exquisitely when watching the video. Again, the poor guidance counselor rushed in to scoop up the plant and soil and do the best she could to clear the other debris.

After some “hilarious” senior skits came the grand finale -- the senior class singing its selected “senior song.” The music teacher had encouraged us to pick one to which we knew both the words and the cadence. We of course ignored that suggestion and chose to sing John Mellencamp’s “Small Town,” to which it turned out that no one knew the words or tune.

If, like me, you weren’t a fan of the song to begin with, you’d be particularly unenthusiastic about it after hearing our rendition. And you thought childbirth was painful!

I’m not sure, but I have to imagine our dear guidance counselor must have been so very relieved and thankful when that shenanigan of a class day drew to a close. I have such admiration and appreciation for her, looking back now, as she was always so kind and composed no matter what craziness we threw at her.

To all those graduating this month, congratulations! But, along with that congratulations, a quick word of advice: thank your teachers, parents, principals and especially your guidance counselors very sincerely next time you have the chance. Without their hard work and patience, none of this spectacular ceremony and fanfare would be possible.

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