Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hooded and Other Things at Graduation

My nephew James graduated from KSU on Wednesday night.

Weird night for a graduation.... middle of the week -- July.

The traffic, light around the college, but kind of stalled out around the facility, stopped and started as I parked my car in the East Parking deck and walked to the convocation center.

Edie? Should that be capitalized?

After being at two, huge high-schools for the last twenty-years of my teaching career and graduating classes of 800 plus, the crowd for this ceremony was small --- and only about 3/4 of the seating filled.

Unlike high school, where rabid parents (with limited tickets), siblings, and sometimes grandparents stampede into the arenas and dash like rock fans to get a front row seat (being assigned as a ticket-taker several times to these events --I witnessed this first-hand), these mild mannered, well-dressed humans stroll into the event and sashay to the vacant seats, politely allowing others to go ahead of them.

Since most graduation ceremonies are now displayed on a huge monitor, I didn't understand the desire for those front row seats at graduation. Of course, I wasn't a parent to a valedictorian or even aunt to one (at least not yet -- Paul? Andrew? Glenn? Stephen? - you're my last chance), even though I am sure that if I had produced an heir, he would be brilliant, witty, and behaviorally disordered, but probably not valedictorian. :)

I plopped down in-between my sister and sister-in-law and flipped through the program.

I looked at the list -- OMG -- over a 1000 graduates, but from the chairs set up for the graduates, I could tell that most of them were not showing up to "walk."


I'll be out of here in minutes.

*raises puny fist*

But, oh no...

KSU graduated their first doctoral student, and as my brother Kenneth quipped, "It's like the first grand-child."

KSU, puffed up and proud, made comment after comment and bragged and bragged about their new "child." Photo-ops, shaking hands, throwing around hoods, and basking in the limelight, KSU recognized this doctoral feat as many as six times during the two and half hour commencement.

At one point, I leaned over to my sister-in-law and commented, "Are you as over this guy as I am?"

She affirmed.

Meanwhile, we clapped for his family in the stands. In fact, we clapped for this guy so many times I lost count. That ceremony would have been an hour shorter it this guy hadn't graduated from KSU on the same night as my nephew. Why didn't that guy finish in the spring? Better question -- why didn't my nephew?


*slaps James up the side of the head*

At one point, they announced the title of his dissertation: "The Elliptical Moves of Four Math Equations on the Cognitive Forces of the Pythagorean Theorem as Presented in the Brains of Male Children Brought Up In Households that Only Ate White Rice" ***

Or something like that....

I was like -- why tell the audience [who had been praying for their kid to graduate at all] the name of this guy's dissertation? Does it mean anything to them? Does it mean anything to the folks who had to read it? How many Google hits will it get?

I was just happy the doctor didn't present it to us.


Really, if you have been to one graduation, you have been to them all.

We sang the National Anthem. My brother, sister, and I sang loudly -- it must have been cause we knew the words and the tune and grew up trying to out-sing the other in church.

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."

A lot of the parents around us did not know the words. Not to "My Hope is Built" but to the National Anthem.

*scratches head*


We live in a changing place.

We clapped for the doctor again, and he had his picture taken with the guy who lead us in singing the National Anthem.

The speaker, Nels Peterson, recently furloughed from the governor's office and a KSU 2001 graduate, did a nice little speech on how important relationships were and how not to worry about money but doing something you love...... anyway, he promised to be "short," but his definition is different from mine.

Then he had his picture made with the doctor.


Then deans of school stood up and conferred and certified the degrees.

We clapped for the doctor.

Then the doctor got his hood, the specialists in education got their hoods, the masters folks got their hoods -- the hooding ceremony took forever.

My nephew Andrew and I were checking off names like they were on a to-do list.

Andrew: I am so not walking when I graduate.
Me: Operative word -- "when."
Andrew: You're just not that funny.


My other two nephews chatted it up and listened to music on their headphones, my brother Kenneth checked the Braves's score on his I-Phone.

This is how the modern world copes with monotony.

*tee hee*

I checked out the many graduates who didn't get the memo on wearing black slacks under the gowns, the number of folks who waved to themselves on screen, the families who stood and hooted when their graduate received their diploma, and tried to figure out if there was one single student on that commencement list that I taught.

There was one who got hooded.

Hood, hooding, hooded, have hooded? Hoodie?Hoodi? Hoodo? I don't think it's a verb? Edie?

Congratulations, Amanda, on your Master of Arts in Teaching and your Hood.... I hope you can get some wear out of it.

The Masters and the hood -- *grins*

Finally, the undergraduates walk -- and receive their diplomas.

I'm pretty sure we clapped for the doctor again, sang the Alma Mater (Egads, who writes this stuff? "Kennesaw, dear Kennesaw,/ Nestled in the Georgia pines,/ What a special place you hold,/ /Treasured in this heart of mine." I personally saw no pines.), recognized professors, clapped for the doctor again, and then finally, the processional freed us.

I did like that a bagpiper lead the processional and the recessional -- even though I didn't know the tune -- the sound was beautiful.

It's always a proud moment for someone you love to graduate -- it is an accomplishment -- a sign of perseverance and determination, of meeting goals, and even though more people than ever graduate from college, for me, it doesn't lessen how proud I feel when one of my own does it.


*** real title of doctoral Ed. D's dissertation: "A Study of the Relationships Between Epistemological Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning Among Advanced Placement Calculus Students in the Context of Mathematical Problem Solving."

I like my title better.



  1. Whoa, was that seriously the dissertation title? Oh, academia. How I love to parody you. Congrats to your nephew, and congrats to you for making it through another graduation. ;) As far as this token "doctor" goes . . . surely he wasn't the ONLY doctor who graduated if they have a new ph.d. program . . . why oh why did he receive all the glory for what must have been a graduating class of ph.ds???

  2. Nels Peterson must not have kids.

  3. I suppose Convocation Center should be capitalized since that's what KSU calls it, kind of like capitalizing Gym since it doesn't have an official name. I'm really not sure on this one. All I know for certain is that it will indeed be capitalized when they name the Convocation Center after KSU's first doctoral student.

  4. On a completely unrelated note: This made me think of you. Not sure why.

  5. If he had graduated the next day, you would have seen ME graduate Summa Cum Laude!

    And yes, I too was forced to sing that Kennesaw Alma Mater... yikes!

  6. My country, tis of thee...


    Born down in a deadman town...

    *uh uh*

    You're a grand old flag...

    *scratches head*

    Wait, did you mean this...

    Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light

    TT, I'd keep going but you REALLY don't want to hear me slaughter, I mean, stretch for those high notes at the end.

    Love ya!