School graduation is an important rite of passage, for both the students and their families. It is also one of the dullest events you can devise. It is a wonder more people don’t die of boredom during the ceremony. All you are there for is the 15 seconds or so it takes for your family member or friend to cross the stage. You don’t care about the other students. You don’t want to hear a speech from whomever is receiving an honorary doctorate. You just want to get in and get out with some memories and a couple of photos.
I have survived another one. As my brain turned to mush, as the seemingly endless line of graduands made their way to the stage at the National Arts Centre, I suddenly realized that this was the sixth straight year I had been subjected to the mind-numbing process that is a graduation ceremony.
This year’s event was my daughter’s graduation from teachers’ college at the University of Ottawa, which is why we were at the National Arts Centre – Ottawa U doesn’t have a place big enough to hold a graduation ceremony. At least the seats were comfortable.
Last year she graduated from Carleton University, her undergraduate degree. The year before it was my turn, getting the Master’s degree I had gone back to school for. That may have been the most boring ceremony of the bunch. I tried to get my family to stay home, or to watch online, but they insisted on being present.
The year before that my son got his Master’s degree. I wasn’t at the ceremony but I watched online. His Bachelor’s was the year before that and my daughter’s high school grad the previous year. I’ve had enough.
Each ceremony seems exactly the same. By the third time someone’s cell phone rings everyone gets the hint and checks their devices to ensure there were no more embarrassing interruptions. Although I don’t know for sure that those whose phones rang were embarrassed. I don’t understand why it isn’t routine to shut your phone off in public gatherings. Perhaps people like drawing attention to their lapses of etiquette.
Speaking of etiquette, the ceremony started late to accommodate the latecomers – who appeared to be the majority of the audience. What part of “the site parking lot will be full” didn’t sink through, and “allow time for construction delays” was unclear? Not to mention that it was pouring rain. We used public transit, which basically dropped us at the door with lots of time to spare.
I am thankful that there are no more family graduation ceremonies in the foreseeable future. Just the thought of attending another one has convinced me that I should forget about any plans to return to school once more for a doctorate. I figure I might not survive the graduation ceremony.