I covered one graduation on Sunday, the ceremony for the 2014
senior class from my high school alma mater. Let me tell you,
graduations have changed since the 1980s.
But not much. To the best of my recollection, graduations have undergone two major upgrades since I wore the robe:
• Microsoft Powerpoint pretty much guarantees the program will include a professional slideshow set to music;
• The building, in this case a gymnasium, is air-conditioned.
gym is also a lot bigger, as are most across Ohio, since a cathedral
gym ceiling seemed to be a requirement for new school building fund
approval several years back. Hair, on the other hand (or head), is much
But I digress. Both of these bullet points are signs of
technological advancement. If we had a slideshow of any kind, I
certainly don’t remember it. There may have been an overhead
transparency beaming an REO Speedwagon song lyric, maybe “Roll with the
changes”, on the gym ceiling, but I don’t think my graduating class was
that tech savvy.
Otherwise, much remains the same. The caps and
gowns bear the respective school colors. The graduation candidates file
into the gym and seat themselves. Each strikes a calculated pose
according to their interest in the proceedings. The class president
welcomes everyone. The valedictorian offers an inspiring speech, the
first one in a very long time that won’t receive a letter grade. But
since it’s presented by the boy or girl voted “most likely to”, they
probably didn’t need the grade anyway.
The all-school choir sings a
song, one that brings tears to every eye in the house. This is followed
by a song sung by the entire graduating class, regardless of musical
abilities. Every senior class has a theme song lifted from the current
top 40. Google tells me that this year’s big hit is American Authors’
“Best Day of My Life”. That would explain why it’s been on a radio loop
since April 1.
The lights dim and hankies or sleeves come out
again for the slideshow. And since everyone is already crying, the
seniors present their parents with a red rose. I don’t think we did
that, either, but it certainly gives the annoying newspaper photographer
great photo ops.
I can’t remember what my class’s theme song was,
nor which industrious student gave the inspirational speech, but I can
remember it felt great to sling that tassel to the graduate side. Four
Putnam County graduations down, five more to go. Roll with the changes,
seniors, and your parents, too.