Friday, June 03, 2005

The Graduates

It's graduation season again. The time of year when bright young minds fledged from the classroom spread their wings and take flight.

A time of high hopes and soaring rhetoric, and seas of colored gowns. You have no idea how much this means to the staff at a daily newspaper, which covers perhaps 13 public high schools, a couple of parochial schools, and half a dozen Christian academies. We loathe graduations.

For two solid weeks, every night, sometimes two and three times a night, we have to read through the insipid and ponderous prose of graduation speeches: stuffy superintendents heaving up jocose humor meant to make them look hip, and lightweight valedictorians trying to talk like world-weary philosophers, and everybody, sooner or later, quoting Khalil Ghibran and Dr. Seuss.

Only two days into it, here are some samples from the local coverage. You have to pronounce these in the tone of someone realizing these thought for the first time, as though no one ever had said such things before:

  • "Life isn’t all smooth sailing and clear skies."

  • "There’s more to life than getting where we’re going."

  • "We go through life, walking on the path that was laid out for us. We are wary of stepping off the path. But without turning, our lives would be at a standstill. It is OK to take chances in life, for without chances society would not progress. You don’t want to look back on life, pondering what you could have done."

  • "You’re lucky if everything always goes right for you. But, if it doesn’t, you must learn to accept the good with the bad."

  • "Your life is the most valuable gift you’ve ever been given. Don’t forget to use it to its fullest."

  • "We learned that our world is much bigger than ourselves, and our lives can affect those around us. Each moment we are alive is a gift that must be valued and shared. And time is truly of the essence."

  • "Take time to reflect on the things that you can do to make things better. Do not underestimate the power of reflection."

  • "Cherish the friends that you’ve made here because God has chosen them as your brothers and sisters."

Three down, 15 or so to go. Gods help me, I think I've been doing this too many years; I read this next one and I confess I have no idea whether this is the silliest thing anyone ever said at a podium, or a flash of sheer genius -- or both.

"We may be cutting the umbilical cord so to speak, but in its place is an extension cord."