May 22, 2009

Can I graduate?

As of next week (the 25th to be exact) I will have been out of high school an entire year. My cap 'n gown currently reside in my room collecting dust on an office chair. I'm rather happy to have graduated as you may guess. It means several things, it means I get to apply for college (and go there maybe, which I did), it means I was successful during those challenging four years, it means my teachers can't suspend me for acting up anymore, a new chapter of my life has begun, and most of all it means I'm GONE baby!

I graduated with honors despite the fact that I was on the scholars program (whatever), next to my buddies, one of which so happened to be valedictorian. It was a very proud moment in my life.

Another proud moment was getting to watch my cousin & friends graduate, with honors and without. It means they too made it and I was so happy.

I'm not here to get sentimental on you, I'm here to tell you how pissed I was at the valedictorian & salutatorian speeches. I also knew the valedictorian this year and I'm not fond of the dude (and really had to wonder how he made the position), but he's a smart kid and props to him I suppose.

But here's the thing. I hated this speech. It was so...cocky and arrogant. The salutatorian's speech was worse. Why? Because it was so damn privileged.

You'd like to think graduating from high school, a mandatory requirement by most if not all states, would be the easiest thing. It isn't. I didn't appreciate the two top students of class of 09 looking down on the students who were not able or otherwise didn't graduate.

The more I listened and thought about it, the more I got pissed. You don't get up on stage and tell the people in attendance that because you were fortunate enough to have certain friends & be part of a certain group that it somehow makes you better than the rest of the class.

It's strange to put into words my disappointment with those two speeches. I can't give you a transcript becaue I wasn't there expecting to get militant, I was there to celebrate. But let me tell you. Getting to the graduation point for me was hard. I didn't and still don't have many friends in school. I didn't attend study sessions with friends. I couldn't cry on anyone's shoulder when things got rough, and they very often got rough. I was suicidal a lot with almost no support that I felt comfortable enough to trust myself to. I took challenging classes for the hell of it and more often than not I got bored in those classes too. My last year involved a ridiculous amount of arguing and fighting. I didn't always make good grades because sometimes I damn well didn't feel like it.

And yet, clearly, I graduated. Did I pull myself up by my bootstraps and get over it? A little. I had help from teachers & faculty that saw my potential when I didn't, couldn't, wouldn't. And I know there were some people in that same position, and plenty of others that had even less than that and still graduated. Why not mention those people?

And then, there were people that had all that and didn't graduate. There were people that had less than that, and unsurprisingly didn't graduate. People that got eaten by a horrific system or otherwise fell through the cracks. People that had to drop out because of fucking life. Where were those people?

I know, I know, when you get up on that stage for your proudest moment, it's not necessarily your job to make a big ol' political, grandstanding statement. It's YOUR time. Our previous top two didn't touch on any of the above and I'm willing to bet none have and none may. That's just how it goes.

But disappointment with those two speeches was palatable between me and some of my former classmates. We didn't discuss it but the general consensus was that we seemed to agree, if for different reasons, that you don't take that stage and decide to diss a portion of your classmates because they couldn't do it big like you. That was a little fucked up, y'all. I mentioned privilege and yes, it still is a privilege to graduate from high school or otherwise get an equivalency. Drop out rates are still pretty high and the system is still pretty fucked up thanks to No Child Left Behind (again whatever) and unsuitable funding for schools. And yet all this doesn't matter. What did matter was that we chose the right people to hang out with, had the resources, worked hard, too the right classes, and therefore we graduated and damn everyone else. That's the message.

What the hell ever, class of 09.

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