.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Keeping cool at graduation

-A A +A
By Jim Clark

When I first came to Williston and found out that graduation was in Gainesville, I was a bit surprised. Chiefland, Cedar Key and Bronson all hold their commencements at the schools. Then last year I went to graduation for the first time, and it was pretty good. I was still wondering how I would like traveling out of town for a Williston ceremony. This week, I went again, and I've come to the conclusion that my first impression was wrong. Going to the University of Florida's Center for the Performing Arts is a great thing, and I applaud whoever thought of it originally. First, there is the weather. When I arrived and parked about 100 yards away from the entrance, it was about 5:45. The rain was just ending and the sun was out. It was harder to tell which was higher, the temperature or the humidity ... both had to be well over 90. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have an outdoor graduation. Then there's the facility itself. Of course, it was comfortably cool, and around here apparently only Bronson had air for its ceremonies. The seats are comfortable, too. That's a major plus when you're allowed into the facility at 6:30, a half hour or so early, and you stay until after 8. The ceremony is surprisingly streamlined, surprising to me because I have gone to graduations where the speakers take forever. For one thing, there's no outside speaker, just the students themselves. The grads are much more likely to listen to one of their own instead of some guest they've never met. They follow the program, too, something that I've seen not done at other places. Each graduate receives a diploma (well, in all honesty, it's blank, they pick up the real thing afterward, saves from getting names mixed up), and as they receive it, they stand on an "x" taped on the floor so that a professional photographer can snap a shot. Meanwhile, Reggie Williams, assistant principal, is reading off the names, and that may be the toughest job of all, especially with the middle or full names which probably haven't been used in all four years that the student has been in school. Students are called up by homeroom teacher, in alphabetical order. That's a nice gesture to honor those teachers, but it makes it hard to figure out who's coming next, since some of us don't know which home room they're in (on the program, the whole class is listed alphabetically). Later we had the singing of the Alma Mater, and that needs a little work, but the intent was good. Finally the grads tossed their caps, although some of the girls had a bit of trouble getting them off their heads where they were pinned. Some just left their hats where they lay as they walked off the stage at the end. WHAT HAPPENED TO MARCHING? I remember my graduation (vaguely, it was a long time ago) and I remember marching in to that same song. But we had a certain step. You lead with the left foot, your right comes up and pauses with the toe even with halfway on your left foot, and then the right foot goes forward and the left foot comes up, etc. No one does that any more. The processional is just a walk. I did like the fact that those at the door made sure there were about 15 feet between students, so if one stopped for a quick picture it didn't back up the line. But nobody marches any more. I guess it's too old fashioned, just like some of the people who write about graduation. Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.