I can’t decide if I’m relieved that junior high graduations have not changed in twenty years or if I’m disappointed that humanity hasn’t yet found some way to take that experience to the next level. My nieces graduation from eighth grade might have been my own- even the gowns were the same color- except that most people had cell phones instead of cameras. And, generally speaking, the spectators were better about following the “hold your applause until all the names are read” instructions. Generally. There were still the people who ignored it, cheering loudly when their graduate crossed the stage (to be loudly shushed afterwards). I suspect that there are always people who ignore this instruction for one reason or another: they’re too proud to see their kid actually graduate to keep quiet, they come from a family culture where being quiet equates to disapproval, they just don’t like being told what to do, etc. I can certainly see this side to the argument: you’re there to see ONE kid walk across the stage for thirty seconds, why not make the most of it? But coming from quiet folk, who follow the rules and hold their applause, I was always annoyed at the shouters because it meant that other kids got cheered and I didn’t. There was never any doubt in my mind that my parents were proud of me- and I was quite certain that there would have been an appropriate amount of applause if it were allowed, but being rule-followers, we always stayed politely quiet while other, louder families kicked up an enthusiastic, but intrusive ruckus. 

So I continue to have mixed feelings about the cheering which occurs during graduation ceremonies. 

Then again, graduation ceremonies were always strangely anticlimactic for me: I worked hard to actually graduate, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to achieve graduation so I never felt that the ceremony was all that validating. It was pleasant to get the recognition from family and friends that I would be moving on to a new chapter of life, but the diploma itself did not feel like an achievement. Even in graduate school, the diploma felt like the least important part of my graduate experience: I didn’t even bother to walk across the stage- I just watched from the audience. 

At any rate, my niece survived junior high and I survived another junior high graduation ceremony. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 24, 2017.

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