Lancer Letter.. 06-08-11

Commencement 2011
by Richard Scaletta

Tonight, June 9, is the 52nd annual commencement of General McLane High School. The class of 1960, though not yet occupying the present high school campus, was the first class of the school district. It is interesting to note that many of the graduates from the school’s first class are still in the community. Not many schools can say that.

Commencements are often called “graduation” or “graduation exercises.” The fact that we have two words which have nearly identical meanings is, I think, indicative of the dual nature of commencement. It recognizes an accomplishment, but also notes that the accomplishment is just a beginning.

Contrary to popular belief, a commencement ceremony is not a celebration. The celebrations occur at graduation parties or people’s homes following the ceremony. A commencement ceremony, is exactly that, a ceremony. Both definitions of ceremony include the word “formal.”

As human beings, we have a need to recognize rites of passage – milestones in our lives that mark an end and a beginning. It seems that nothing ends without having something begin. A retirement marks the end of work but the beginning of leisure (or often, another form of work.) A wedding marks the end of the single life and the beginning of married life. High school commencement marks the end of a time of life when we are more “other-directed” and we enter a time when we are more “self-directed.”

When a student graduates from high school, we are saying over the past 12-13 years the student has grown in a number of areas, and that the student has met requirements for a diploma. Having met the requirements for a diploma, the student is ready to pursue an adult life in whatever form it will take.

I always told the students that there are two words to describe a McLane commencement: short and dignified. We don’t take the spotlight from the students by having a guest speaker talk for twenty minutes. The majority of talking comes from the students and we ask that the audience refrain from “hootin’ and hollerin’” when names are read so each student’s name is clearly heard and recognized. We strive to make the ceremony one that truly says: “these young people are ready to assume their roles as adults in the world.”

Like the parent of a graduate, I have mixed emotions about the night. While it is always great to see how the students have grown and matured over the years, we will certainly miss them walking our halls, taking classes and being involved in the life of General McLane. They will always be part of the “Lancer fabric” and we hope they will come back to visit.

Good Luck Class of 2011!

The Lancer Letter is a weekly editorial by Richard Scaletta, Superintendent of Schools, General McLane School District. Opinions expressed are Mr. Scaletta’s views on the issues and subjects of discussion.

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