Posted tagged ‘graduation’

3 Cheers for Education

May 17, 2018

Three Cheers for Education
by Dr. Steven J. Callis

It is that time of year when educators are challenged with the task of maintaining order and the learning process among students whose minds are already focused on summer vacation.  The double shot of spring fever and the rapidly-approaching final day of school are much akin to a sugar high in children; fidgety antsy, and excited.

Reflecting on my high school days brings to mind the annual junior-senior prism ball game.  Similar to dodgeball, but played with three balls, this event occurred within the final two weeks of the school year, consumed two class periods, and took place in the school gym.  Over the years it had grown to a fun, but highly competitive, athletic event pitting the junior class against the senior class.  Those choosing not to play sat in the stands and in the balcony rooting for their team.

Technically, this was not a sanctioned event.  Administrators did not promote it or encourage it, but they did allow it to take place without penalty.  Therefore, skipping classes for the game was harmless and without consequence – – unless you were a student in Mrs. Crow’s typing class.

It was my junior year, and I distinctly heard her announce to the students that anyone skipping her class for the prism ball game would receive the grade of “F” for the entire grading period.  Our argument that the punishment did not fit the crime fell on deaf ears.  Our reasoning that she could not penalize what the administration refused to reprimand fell empty at her feet.  Surely, we thought, she will not fail the entire class!

From a student’s perspective, the junior-senior prism ball game was to some degree a rite of passage.  At the time, our school included grades 7-12, so we waited five years for our turn to play in the big year-end event; and of course, the junior class was bound and determined to defeat the seniors.

One other huge consideration is that we understood this to be our final opportunity to play in this annual rivalry.  A new comprehensive high school was under construction, and our senior year would be lived out in a school four times the size of our current school.  Most seniors were unhappy that we could not graduate from what had been “our school” since 7th grade.  And we were correct: there were no prism ball games at the new school.

Prophetically, we made the predictable youthful decision and skipped typing class.  Mrs. Crow followed through with her threat, but somehow it did not impact our final grade for the year.    Whether she was protesting the event or she was so very committed to teaching, I must admit appreciation for what I learned in her course, it having proved significantly beneficial over the years of my studies and career.

Today I applaud our students – especially this year’s high school and college graduating classes – along with our teachers, staff, and administrators for their commitment to education and the development of our young men and women.  I still have my graduation cap; I think I will take it outside and toss it in the air for ol’ time’s sake!



Turning of the Tassel

May 6, 2013

     The month of May ushers us into the season of graduation commencement exercises which normally include a “turning of the tassel” ceremony. While there are several opinions on when this tradition originated, it seems certain that the practice once carried a more significant meaning than it does today.
     Until the time of the Civil War, the cap and gown were worn daily by faculty and students at American universities. For those students, the turning of the tassel was a long awaited celebration after it had dangled from the same side of the cap throughout their undergraduate journey.
Today the turning of the tassel is considered to have more of a symbolic meaning than a rite of passage. Many graduates, however, guard their tassel as a lifelong keepsake (I think graduation tassels are why rearview mirrors were invented for cars!)
     My high school graduating class consisted of more than 800 students. At the end of the long ceremony, tassels were turned, caps went airborne, and pandemonium ensued!
     Besides the lauded high school graduation ceremonies, there will also be graduates this Spring from kindergarten, grade school, middle school, college and universities, nursing school, seminaries, medical school…well, you get the idea. Many students following a variety of pursuits will celebrate a milestone within the next few weeks.
     I have experienced enough years of formal education to understand that the value of my diplomas are not reflected so much by the school I attended, or the size of my certificate, or the number of letters in the degree, or even in the acquired amount of student loans.
     The value of my diploma is found in the commitment to academic pursuit in preparation for my life’s goal and calling. There is something to be said for a student’s sheer perseverance to reach the moment of turning the tassel, but it is how the student ultimately uses the lessons learned that so enrich the worth of the diploma that hangs on the wall.
Parents, teachers, and administrators play a huge role in that process, along with the student’s personal ownership of responsibility. With that thought, I sincerely congratulate all graduating students this year, and express my gratitude for those who have assumed a guiding role in the education and preparation of our students. By the way, don’t forget to keep your tassel before you toss your cap high into the air!