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Watch out for snails
Posted on Tuesday, June 09 @ 12:32:18 EDT by Admin

News from the small schools Justice writes "

A graduation ceremony is supposed to be for the benefit of the seniors. Do HS kids think that wearing those funny hats and gowns, and spending a fine summer day cooped up inside listening to some old people give them advice is really a benefit? It is tradition, and a passage that can be fun for some graduates. I leave it for them to give the final word on the ceremony.

Parents of seniors have some right to give judgment also. We know that there is not a lot of expectation for creativity or excellence in the event. But this year the proceedings had some strange choices. It deserves to be blogged.

Slow and slimy

The main speaker for graduation was “Daddy Wags”, a radio talker with 30 years experience at a local station. He had the vocal presence that someone with his experience can be expected to project, and his Santa length beard gave him a distinguished demeanor. His choice of speaking material was - odd.

There are certain standard topics that a graduation speech can fall back on, this parody hits some of them. Here are a few of Mr. Wags' clichéd talking points.

Joking about how the speech you are giving should have been read once before the event, rather than scanned on the way into the building, check.

Giving some statistics that show the sad state of public engagement of the parents, and exhort the kids to do better. Unfortunately the low rate of voting Wags used to check off this item was not at all applicable to Grandview, where voting normally is 50% even on ballots that have no local issues, and passes 80% in some elections.

The parable of the hare and the tortoise is a standard graduation speech cliché, and the radio jock seemed to know this because he didn't fall back on it. Unfortunately, he just changed the animal used for the story to a snail. Slow and steady sometimes wins the race, and if a turtle has been over used, why not talk about an even slower beast?

Wags gave an example of how gardeners fear the snail as it slowly chomps through the vegetables. OK. The moral to be learned is that if you want to be really destructive, you should be like the lowly snail? There was something in his speech about leaving slime trails and not crossing back, but by this point the metaphor had broken so completely I was having trouble paying attention.

The real question is why the guy was selected as a speaker at all. His personal story about dropping out of college to work in radio, then turning it into a successful career, is a long odds gamble in an industry that eats through and spits out talent. The more normal outcome would have been minor success while shuttling across the country, getting booted, followed by regret that a degree had not been completed as a backup career option. Did the graduates really need to be told by inference that it is OK to drop out of school if you are chasing a long-shot?

Tag team val and sal

The Valedictorian and Salutatorian gave a speech in alternation, in the tradition of a comedy duo. Cute, not cliché, I had some trouble hearing because they had to share a mic, but it was the best part of the afternoon. This was the last time a val and sal will speak at a graduation in Grandview, the new policy of selecting a student speaker based on submitted speeches instead of grade point starts next year.

Just a mom

I don't know if there is any long tradition about how the diplomas are handed out, who gives the document, who shakes hands. I think I remember in the past it was the super, the principal, and the board president. This year there was an awkward addition of the board vice-pres., Anita Keller.

She stood next to the board president and gave selective congratulations to the seniors. Some got a big hug, which nobody else on the stage gave out. Some got a handshake. Some got no handshake, no recognition at all. It was as if a mom had been placed on the stage to give her opinion of the kids she liked better than others.

And she was a mom to her child, who graduated this year. I suspect her only reason to be in that line was just to be able to hand her kid the diploma herself.

I'm not a stickler for tradition. If the kids wanted to be selective in who they gave handshakes to, it would be OK. If they had a beef with the super, it would be OK if they snubbed his handshake. But for an official of the school board to be discriminative in how she treats kids in this ceremony – it reeks of selective treatment. That is the opposite of how a board member should act, they should always be non-discriminatory in unearned rewards.

I'm sure this board member will not even perceive she was doing anything wrong. She probably doesn't have any deep thought process about how she should act as a board member. After all, her participation in the activity of the board has been limited to keeping a chair occupied for many years. She really is just a mom, who stumbled onto a position on the board.


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