COMMENCEMENT DAY ADDRESS

24Apr07

Most schools have already secured their commencement day speakers, and again this year, my phone hasn’t rung. But if the featured graduation day speaker for your college, high school, middle school or driving academy should happen to cancel, I am ready to fill in at a moment’s notice. To prove that I’m fully prepared to step into the breach, I have already written my commencement address, which follows.

“Honored guests, faculty members, parents, grandparents, graduates and security staff:

“It is indeed an honor to stand before you on this momentous occasion. I have always loved commencement ceremonies because they often occur on such lovely, warm, sunny days as this one, when all signs point to new beginnings. Flowers are in bloom. Leaves are on the trees. Birds are singing. Spring in the air!

“All right, be seated again, please. And try not to be so literal.

“Graduates, at your age it is normal to think that youth will last forever, that old age will never come. But remember, I was once as you are now—minus the piercings and the tattoos, of course.

“My own graduation day was a day very much like this one. As we sat in the blistering heat listening to the speeches, I wondered about the future. Today, as I look out at your many faces, I wonder about the past. You are probably asking, what about the present? Well, I didn’t bring one, and I can see that your fancy education didn’t teach you any manners.

“Nonetheless, I am here to tell you that you truly can live your dreams. In fact, I note that several in the front row have already begun. Wake up! There will be ample time to sleep during the valedictory.

“But I did not come here to bore you. That’s the chancellor’s job. I came here to tell you that while you have received a first-rate education in the classroom, there are things just as important as reading, writing, arithmetic and TV production.

“I am referring, of course, to parking. If you can’t park the car, you can’t go to school. By the way, could someone do me a favor and put 50 cents in the meter out front? I’d do it myself, but I haven’t received my honorarium yet.

“Speaking of money, when I was your age, my generation believed that money was the root of all evil. We have since learned that that was wrong. The root of all evil is actually the Internet. Money, it turns out, was cool all along. Imagine how rich we’d all be if we had known.

“Which brings me to my final words to you today: always remember that many hands make light work. So, if you would fold your chair and stack it in the corner on the way out, we’d appreciate it.”

(This column originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.)

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