Monday, June 05, 2006
Graduation Ceremony or Woodstock?
Argh. I feel a full-blown rant coming on...

Friday afternoon, Prince Charming, the Princess, and I loaded up and headed down to the Chicago suburbs to witness the graduation of my youngest sister from high school.

Now, before I get into this, I want to tell you what my own graduation from the same high school was like, so you can properly appreciate the foundation of the coming rant.

My graduation from Dundee-Crown was an event. It was held at Poplar Creek, a local outdoor open-air auditorium for summer rock concerts. There were 351 students in my graduating class. At this venue, there was plenty of seating and every seat had an excellent view of the stage. Should seating run out or guests want to make a hasty retreat, there was a grassy spot in the back where people could stand and watch or sit on blankets. Even so, they would still be able to see the goings-on.

So imagine my disgust when I drove 2.5 hours to watch my sister graduate at Carpenter Park, a nice park that used to host the local Jamboree Days (it may still, I'm just not sure), but doesn't offer much in the way of seating, stage accomodations (unless you are a jug band), sound system, or crowd control. We showed up to the venue 45 minutes early and found that we were about 8 hours late. Traffic was impossible, crowd control was non-existant, and seating was hodge-podge. Who has every heard of a BYOC Graduation (Bring Your Own Chair)?

And that's not all!

My mother had brought chairs for all of us, so we unfolded them and picked a free spot near the edge instead of treking our gear through the masses and upsetting many. Then we sat down.

But, this was apparently unwise because it meant that we couldn't see anything. In the grand tradition of fuckups, the police who were working crowd control failed to make sure that the late-coming unwashed masses respected those of us who had arrived early and come prepared. In essence, this mob was allowed to stand in front of the rest of us in lawn chairs and completely obscure the view of the stage. Not a soul behind them could see. And, of course, at this point we were trapped. We couldn't very well move somewhere else as the ceremony was already underway and that would be rude to the people who could see. We couldn't stand up ourselves, either, as that would be rude to the people behind us. What a pickle. Even so, I decided that the only thing I could do was to stand up long enough to watch my sister get her diploma, a grand total of 1 minute, maybe.

And I felt guilty doing that much!

But the crowd of people who were above the general rules of conduct and courtesy couldn't be stopped. We tried sending the cop over there to get them to sit down, but he was unable to get anything done. So were the school administrators. It was a nightmare. The crowd of seated people were not happy and finally started shouting "Down in Front!" to the rude standing people. Oh, I should have mentioned. They weren't just standing, they were also talking, laughing, guffawing, and making so much noise you couldn't hear the speakers. It was exceedingly vexing. Finally one of the dolts in front says to the general area behind him, "What? You can't see?" He moved two steps left and said, "How about now?" Then came the deafening roar of an answer, "NOOOOOO!"

So, he moved another step left, but since there were at least 40 people in front of him it did no good whatsoever except to piss people off further.

For our part, we decided it was ridiculous to stay if the school didn't have more respect for people than that, so we packed up our gear somewhere in the middle of the "M's" and left. I should say that since my sister's class had over 600 people in it, this was staying for a large majority of the ceremony.

But that's not all. Oh, no!

In addition to the large number of incredibly rude people, there was also a general lack of appreciation for the grandeur of the event. It was more like Woodstock than a graduation. I saw a man wearing a wife-beater, for cripe's sake! People were running around in the middle of the ceremony, walking in front of and between seated polite viewers, barefoot and acting like it was half-time at a Mamas and Papas Concert. I was appalled! There was no request for general courtesy from the administrators of the event. No request to "hold your applause and celebration until the end." It was out of control. People were not dressed in deference and respect. They were behaving like asses at Happy Hour. It was revolting. They were disrespectful to everyone else there, but more importantly they failed to respect the graduates themselves.

Which, in my opinion, is unforgivable.
posted by Phoenix | 9:13 AM


At 5:47 PM, Blogger Bill Bell said...

You wrote: "I saw a man wearing a wife-beater, for cripe's sake!"

What, my dear Phoenix, is a "wife-beater"? No, I do not wish to acquire one. I merely want to know what it is.



At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, poor Phoenix! (and poor Taylor!) It is sad to hear that our alma mater has reached this point of depravity. Could they "really" find no place better than Carpenter Park? Even the football field would have been better. I hope that, despite the rudeness of the masses, your sister was still able to enjoy her graduation a little bit. By the way that is a great cake you made! Good job!


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