Graduation: Triumph or Travesty?

Written by Andrew Linn on June 10, 2013

Chaos05High School graduation — the conclusion of one’s primary education. A time to reflect on one’s achievements, celebrate, and look ahead to the future. Also known as commencement, convocation, and invocation, graduation involves speeches, music, recognition of achievement, and the awarding of diplomas. I should note that some schools actually hand out the portfolio (outside cover) of the diplomas (or a proxy of some type), then mail the actual diploma (along with transcripts) to the students, mostly for logistical reasons (e.g. large number of graduates, absent graduates). At least that’s how it was when I graduated from high school.

But despite high school graduation being the proudest moment for a seventeen or eighteen year-old, it can have its share of problems. Recently the class valedictorian of one high school tore up his approved speech and said the Lord’s Prayer. Another valedictorian mentioned God in his speech, only to have the microphone cut off.

In both incidents, the school no doubt was enforcing its separation of church and state (and probably trying to avoid offending someone). The second incident also involved the fact that the valedictorian deviated from his speech (which was against the rules — the speech was supposed to stay on the subject).

Personally, I’m curious as to who actually wrote that policy (school board member, superintendent, principal) and find out from that individual what he or she had in mind when writing it. Surely, they can make exceptions. And since the graduation ceremony began and ended with prayers, then mentioning God in a speech should not be a problem.

With such restrictions, I’m beginning to wonder if valedictorians or any of their fellow graduates will think “what’s the point?” when it comes to giving a speech at graduation. By the way, are senior wills still being written, because I never understood their purpose.

But issues surrounding graduation are not limited to speeches. Sometimes things get out of hand, particularly when the graduates are receiving their diplomas and someone’s friends or relatives go absolutely berserk. Now, I believe that people should be respectful during graduation. However, some schools take drastic, even absurd measures to deter such behavior. In fact, some administrators have even withheld diplomas from students who demonstrated unruly behavior (or whose family or friends have done so).

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Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to and Right Impulse Media.