Graduations gone wild

Graduations gone wild

Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

I’m old. Maybe I’m even old and cranky. Maybe I’m even old and cranky and a little bit cynical. But some parts of our modern culture are just downright funny. Graduation ceremonies have become a tad excessive in my personal opinion. It’s like Hallmark has gotten a choke hold on the graduation industry and pretty soon we’ll be having community graduation ceremonies for children who have “graduated” out of diapers and into big boy pants. (Yes, this would be one of the few social situations that would merit giving the graduate a large gift bag of underwear.) OR what about graduation ceremonies for people who have graduated from a defensive driving course? Where’s the accolade for that accomplishment? I’ve been the proud graduate of several of those mandatory courses and no one has ever even given me a gift card to Walmart or a radar detector or even a coupon to Taco Bell.  
I know there are things that need to be celebrated in life. I’m for graduation celebrations. High school graduation. College graduation. Law school. Med school. Welding school. Dental school. Nursing school. Auto mechanics school. Cosmetology school. The list goes on and on. You get the picture. All of these graduations required a volitional act of human will to accomplish the necessary tasks which led to a positive result … graduation. In fact, according to Webster, the very definition of a graduate is: a person who has completed a course of study at a school or college and has received a degree or diploma.  
That means your dog did not “graduate” from Dog Obedience School. I’m sorry. You made him go. You fed him dog biscuits to keep him from killing and maiming the other dogs in the class. He had no choice. I feel the same way about kindergarten graduation. Let me clarify before you start sending angry e-mails. Kindergarten teachers are literally on my “Top Five Most Important People on the Planet” list. SO this is not about the validity of kindergarten or kindergarten teachers. Kindergarten is a profoundly important year in the academic process. But I feel uncomfortable calling a 5-year-old a graduate … of anything. I had 5-year-olds. I loved them. They were adorable and smart and funny. But I wouldn’t have called either of them particularly accomplished in life. God did not intend a 5-year-old to be particularly accomplished in life. They’re at the beginning of the academic process, not the end. The word we use to describe someone who worked 70 hours a week, memorized thousands of pages of legal case studies and sat for the bar exam should not be the same word we use to describe a 5-year-old who no longer takes a nap. Common sense, right?
Perhaps our excessive graduation tendencies are also why people seem to take graduation ceremonies so lightly these days. Being excessively loud or wearing cut-offs to a graduation ceremony is inappropriate. Getting up and leaving the ceremony because your graduate’s name has already been called takes away from the solemnity of the ceremony. Graduation is about real accomplishment and tenacity. It’s worthy of our best efforts. SO if you are a graduate, I celebrate with you! Congratulations! The sky’s the limit. And if you’re an obedient dog who is offended by my earlier statements … well … the fact that you can read this column, I take back everything I said.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 5.18.11

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