Graduation 2007: Welcome to Wal-mart

Oct. 5, 2006, midnight | By Robert Feasley | 14 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps for the perfect graduation venue some un-perfect thinking is in order

There are certain truths to which we hold dear. What goes up must come down. What goes around comes around. Non-denominational ceremonies in denominational locations like churches cause controversy. And finding the perfect place to hold graduation each year can prove elusive.

One of the most accepted truths is that everyone is offended by something — an especially problematic conundrum when choosing a graduation site meant to hold dads, moms, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, close friends and the occasional estranged vagrant of graduating seniors. In hindsight, some of Blair's past venues now seem ammunition for conflict.

The protruding cross at the Jericho City of Praise, where the Blair graduation ceremony was held between 2003 and 2005, loomed over potentially litigious unbelievers.

Where there are horses there are horse flies and "road apples" galore. In the P.G. Equestrian Center, where the graduation ceremony returned in 2006, there are virtual orchards of said apples with their attending flies. This, too, can cause controversy, especially when the non-denominational ceremony happens to take place downwind from said orchard. The smell of the center mixing with the sweat of the assembled throng while the waning sun reflects off a sea of mortar boards and tassels creates a truly unforgettable environment (yes, I realize it was indoors, but I'm on a roll here).
So as we await our present-day Moses (don't look at me) to lead us out of this arid desert of animosity and into the Promised Land of the perfect backdrop for this year's graduation, perhaps it's time to think a little outside the Ark, er, box.

Let's examine some possibilities and carefully weigh the pros and cons.


For those of you who are just now beginning to read this article, it isn't really about HOOTERS or HOOTERS girls. Or HOOTERS hot pants with those swell white boots! It's about the heroic efforts of one writer to head off the impending humanitarian crisis that will befall us seniors here at Blair if June should find us without a place to hold the graduation ceremony.

But getting back to HOOTERS. No.


Not a lot of schools with student populations nearing 3,000 even think of holding graduation ceremonies in a coffee shop intended for 30 people. But this is the kind of thinking that makes us great.
Pros: Air conditioned. Comfy couches for those endless stem-winders from graduation orators. Orange mocha latte frappuccinos to help us all stay awake during the aforementioned stem-winders. Easy to find. Non-denominational unless you're a fanatic about your coffee.

Cons: A tad small? All that coffee and just one bathroom? Some people might miss the horses.

The compassionate conservative center of Washington, D.C.

Pros: A truly inclusive "big tent" kind of place where people of all races, creeds and lifestyles are welcomed. Bedrock values to stand on. Earnest, caring arms to lift you up and make America great again while you're waiting for your diploma.

Cons: No one's actually seen this place — everyone just hears about it every four years.


Pros: Big-box retailing comes to graduation ceremonies, putting all other graduation services in a 100-mile radius out of business. Cheap, underpaid, non-union-but-oh-so-cheery greeters employees to greet the incoming throngs of relatives, well-wishers and horses. Oh wait. That's the other place. We've done that.

Cons: If the graduation speeches run over their allotted time and night falls, there's a very real danger that the graduating class of 2007 might just be locked in until morning with the night-shift workers.


Pros: Unboring. Plenty of space. Plenty of parking. Plenty of bold Norwegian styling. Plenty of chairs to sit on — if you've brought along the minimum of 10 tools with which to assemble them. This bold international setting may lure a more stellar graduation speaker like Kofi Annan, Pope Benedict XVI, Stephen Hawking, Tony Blair or office linebacker Terry Tate.

Cons: It may actually be too big — half of the class might end up in the bedroom suites while the other half contemplates countertops.

Golden shores... of the future

These are all wonderful, creative, innovative, non-denominational and carefully selected venues from which the class of 2007 can set sail for the golden shores of the future. Perhaps we can't use all of them this year. It's possible that none of these will work out. Maybe we'll lose our way and need direction. That's what the greeters are for.

Robert Feasley. Robert is a llamahead. More »

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