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Graduations need not all be alike
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I'm going to buck tradition and suggest that maybe we should look at a new way of graduations in this country.

As the father of four and the uncle of more, I've been to my fair share of graduations. As a reporter I've covered more graduations than I can remember. More are coming this week. None stand out as any different than the rest. We simply are unafraid to do things differently than the cookie-cutter style we're all used to.

A nephew of mine graduated May 23. I think that that Oakdale High School graduation took the cake, though. It took a great deal of ingenuity - and I still don't know how it was pulled off - but all of a sudden one of those blow-up dolls appeared among the graduates and was batted around like a beach ball. The crowd burst into laughter as the naked doll was spanked around and red-faced school officials scrambled to seize it. It was stuffed into a large box behind the speaker's platform. Its visible naked legs served as a reminder during the event that kids will be kids.

At a Waterford graduation last week, the son of a good friend received his diploma and pulled off an amazingly authentic-looking trip and roll. I was more impressed with this attention-grabbing stunt than when his older brother tried the same thing in front of Steve Thiessen.

Let's pay attention to our kids! I think they're trying to spice up an otherwise predictably boring ceremony. You seen one and you've seen them all. I understand the need to treat the occasion with reverence and respect but maybe we could rethink how a graduation goes down. Maybe it's time to remove the boiler plate.

I understand that everyone has a need for their 15 seconds of fame, but I dread the calling of the names. Not only will some clown behind me blow out my ears with one of those marine horns in a can, but to endure the reading of names is almost too much. I have a better idea. Have all the graduates read all their names at once and blast them out of a cannon. It's a common known fact that the grads are handed an empty cover anyway. They actually get their diploma later. Well, okay maybe a cannon isn't the safest idea. But let's talk about it.

Even the speeches sound all the same. And by the way, someone please make sure that the students' speeches have been looked over for grammatical errors. It should be embarrassing for school officials to hear their students mispronounce words or slaughter the language.

Maybe we need to add more music from the students. Maybe a big Superbowl half-time show type of production. But please make sure the kids can carry a tune or play that instrument correctly. We want the audience pleasantly surprised, not embarrassed for the teen playing the part of an American Idol reject.

Quick, do something! The sound of Pomp & Circumstance is rolling around in my head like a non-stop treadmill. If we don't do something quick, we might be faced with pranks more embarrassing than a blow up doll.

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