Time for a Graduation Innovation Conversation

Yesterday was Thing 1’s last day of high school, which means she graduates in the top 100% of her class this week and enters the ambiguous and limbotic state of a Phillip Phillips Summer; somewhere between “Home” and “Gone, Gone, Gone”.

Not unlike your typical middle-aged milquetoast who has survived such a life event as this, my emotive state is one of uneasy apprehension and terrible trepidation, not so much from the launching of a long-time household resident as from the requirement that I actually attend the lengthy and dreaded tradition that is the graduation ceremony.

Don’t think that I have not tried to avoid it.  Due to the large size of Thing 1’s class compared to the limited seating of the arena, the number of tickets allotted to each student is 3.5, which will no doubt make for some interesting seating arrangements.  I have therefore selflessly and generously offered to forego the Gradual Snorefest in favor of allowing someone more deserving to attend such as a grandparent or a homeless person or Paul Hogan (our Australian Shepherd).  And believe me, I presented so many excuses that Eric Holder has been contacting me for creative consults.

The Queen Mother however, has asserted her role as President ObeyMe and put the kibosh on any possibility of my spending Friday night doing something interesting or useful.  Instead I will be on the three-hour bleacher ride to Boring, Oregon as speakers talk about following one’s dreams and being yourself and contributing to society followed by some administrator or other reading from the phone book while a parade of obedient scholars are prodded across a platform in the new outfits specially purchased to be unseen under their Lutheran choir robe and embarrassing quadrangular headdress.

It’s not that I’m cynical.  Actually, it is that I’m cynical.  But it’s also that graduation ceremonies tend to be—what’s the phrase?—on the insipidly monotonous side of tedium.  All meaningfulness aside, there has got to be something that can be done to make these ceremonies more interesting, and I can’t imagine that doing so would be too difficult even for public school boards.  I mean, how much could it cost to rent a smoke machine and a couple of lasers?  As you rabid right-wing surmisers have probably already surmised, I have a few other ideas.

The first is simple and shockingly inexpensive: Jazz Hands.

I am secure enough in my manhood to admit that there are few things as fun and uplifting as a rollicking show tune.  And what do performers do at the end of each said tune?  They strike a pose, exclaim “…Yeah!” in a shouted whisper, and waggle their hands in a motion that is a cross between ASL applause and waving to a small child.  At a minimum this simple action would make graduation ceremonies bearable and perhaps even entertaining as each speaker would end their piece with “…Yeah!” [Jazz Hands].

For example:

“And in conclusion, class of 2013, I beseech you to follow your dreams, be yourself, and contribute to society.  …Yeah! [Jazz Hands]”


“Andrew P. VanKampen; Samual J. Wallace; Carly B. Westerman; Carlos H. Younce; Sarah A. Zimmerman …Yeah! [Jazz Hands]”

How could anyone help but jump to their feet in wild applause?  It works every time in Cabaret.

Another idea I have is to somehow involve sharks.  A simple entertainment principle out there that producers follow whenever they want to enhance the excitement of anything is to add a shark.  I think this is because few things are as interesting to humans as big things in the water that can potentially chew off your limbs.  You don’t see zoos advertising their goat tanks, do you?  Some of the most exciting of childhood memories I have include watching divers in shark cages getting snapped at, then having The Fonz jump over them on water skis.

Imagine a graduation ceremony where the speaker cuts his finger, then has to deliver the commencement address from a raft in a shark tank while a pack of hungry great whites circle and thrash around him.  So cool!  (Maybe they could even change the name of the song to “Chomping Circumstance.”)  A secondary option is a creature with giant tentacles.  Giant tentacles are almost as awesome as sharks.  Either way, nobody’s napping.  Then, just as the raft is about to be punctured, Robbie Knievel rides in and jumps over the whole thing on a motorcycle and lands on a helicopter such that it tilts and the blades rotate into the ground in slow motion.  Then, just when things are quiet and the whole audience is convinced that there are no survivors, U2 comes walking through the dust and sings “Mysterious Ways.”  Best.  Graduation.  Ever.

Unfortunately, the rest of my ideas are not getting through simply because they involve cutting-edge pyrotechnics and/or Hooters Girls.  (It turns out that President ObeyMe has some sort of veto power.)  Maybe by the time Thing 2 graduates, society will have caught up to me and my ideas.  In the meantime, I’ll be ironing my shirt for Friday.  And charging my iPad.  And choosing a book.   …Yeah! [Jazz Hands]

6 thoughts on “Time for a Graduation Innovation Conversation

  1. I second your suggestion but why not use the guy on America’s Got Talent? He used a ticked off rattle snake to pop a balloon that he was blowing up. Talk about edge of your seat anti napping interest. And he could be added to any stage without the expense of a water filled tank!


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