Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grad Shafting

When the schools wrapped up for the year, a couple of weeks ago, not everyone was happy. No, I don't mean the students who failed their classes. I mean students who worked hard to graduate, only to be denied their diplomas because of mean-spirited administrators. There's a school in Standish, Maine, called Bonny Eagle High. They had their graduation ceremony not too long ago, and when Justin Denney took a bow and blew a kiss to his mom, the superintendent immediately told him he would not be getting his diploma.

Now look, I know that a certain kind of decorum is expected at graduation ceremonies, but what the hell is so out of line about blowing a kiss to a family member? Not only that, but another kid from the same school was nearly arrested because he was tossing a beach ball around -- who's running the schools in this town, Ayatollah Khomeini?

Would someone please be kind enough to remind Superintendent Suzanne Lukas and I, exactly what century we're living in? Or for that matter, what nation the state of Maine is in? I could swear that a brief show of affection is perfectly acceptable under Freedom of Speech rights. I could swear that tossing a beach ball around -- while a faux pas -- is not a felony in this part of the world. One of the comments I'd read about this story, online, hit it pretty much on the head: the graduation is a celebration for the students, not the parents, and not the teachers. If you really have to play hardball with rabble-rousers, worry about the kids who celebrate by binge drinking, or who streak through the auditorium. When blowing a kiss is suddenly grounds for being denied a diploma that you legitimately earned, someone has totally crossed the line, and it ain't the student. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Justin Denney's dying grandparents were in the audience, and one of their last wishes was to see this young man graduate. Way to drive a stake through their hearts, Ms. Lukas.

Another comment that was raised, relates to something that I cannot check, but will gladly re-iterate: what exactly is the graduation rate of Bonny Eagle High? How well do the students score on state tests? How often are the students in genuine trouble with the law -- like violence and drugs? How many of them are able to find jobs or post-secondary education, even at the best of times? If the majority of the schools under Ms. Lukas' jurisdiction can honestly boast to doing well in this area, then she might have some right to get in a snit over something as trivial as showboating. Until then, madam, pull your head out of your ass, and do your goddamn job. Enough said.

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