Monday, May 22, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect

"Graduation practice will be held in the gymnasium immediately after school. All individuals participating in the ceremonies must attend. I repeat: Attendance is mandatory! That is all!" Pécan's voice squawked out over the intercom as the school day came to a close.

I'm one of the fortunate souls who have a senior homeroom. Not lucky because the seniors skip homeroom and I get a free conference period out of it, but "fortunate" because having a senior homeroom means I have "graduation duty" (translation: Not only is my attendance at graduation mandatory, but I get to sit with my homeroom during the ceremonies and act as a combination chaperone/usher/policeman). Hey, but at least I get summers off.

So, after the final bell of the day, I trudged off to the gym for graduation practice with a heavy heart and an even heavier stack of grading to finish. If you've never experienced a graduation practice, allow me to enlighten.

It was basically a dry run of the ceremony minus the caps and gowns. Not quite a dress rehearsal, but more like a "dress down" rehearsal. The gym was an ocean of folding chairs. It was expected that the students were to be sitting in them, but they weren't. Why? Because the students were expected to be sitting in them. We should try reverse psychology on next year's grads. That will get them in the seats.

"Attention students. These folding chairs are very important to the school and you should NOT for any reason sit in them."

It was your typical rogues' gallery--all dressed in this Abercrombie & Fitch, Areopostale and Hollister collage. You had the kids who do nothing, but imitate every Will Ferrell movie for attention. They're fueled by the students who were laughing at them. Trust me, there's no energy crisis for these kids.

Cell phones were out, not for calling anybody or texting, but so the kids could sing to their ring tones. A few games of paper wad basketball broke out here and there. Boy crazy girls were bouncing back and forth between these student hives that had formed throughout the room. All of this was framed by the Yu-Gi-Oh games that hugged the corners of the gym.

After Pécan's threat of withholding diplomas the students got into their seats. All of the events were narrated by Pécan in that constant monotone. I'm still not sure if he was practicing his voice for the ceremony or if that was his natural cadence. Names were called; the valedictorian stood at the podium and proclaimed, "Blah, blah, blah!" (I'm assuming in an attempt to simulate her actual speech), and the students crossed. Boy, did they cross.

There were many pumping of fists. Half probably thought this was the actual graduation. One kid did the robot, while another walked backwards. To be honest with you it wasn't the "how" that bothered me, but the "who." Constantly I was saying to myself, "That kid failed my class. How are they graduating now?"

As a matter of fact, there were a few that failed my class twice that were graduating on time. Who knows how that happened? They could have gone to summer school or doubled up on English this year. Maybe they went to one of those learning annexes that I've heard about where the final is pass/fail--meaning the check clears or it doesn't.

So much for my "you need this class to graduate" speech.

Congratulations Seniors! You sorta' earned it.

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