The panic surrounding high school graduation


We send our children to high school to teach them to be problem solvers.
With all the world’s information at their fingertips, teens no longer need to use instruction time to memorize facts and obviously research time is greatly reduced. This leaves more time to focus on understanding concepts and conditioning their brains to solve any problem that college, job or life throws at them.
Meanwhile, their parents can’t even find a parking lot.
My daughter graduates from Marysville on Saturday and the lead-up to the ceremony has shown me that parents can sometimes be panicky, inconsiderate, needy and just generally inflexible.
Full disclosure, the last few months before graduation have been a lot more nerve wracking than I thought. For some reason, in my mind I thought there would be more of a separation between the college selection process and the end-of-high-school pomp. In reality, it was one big blur from financial aid awards, to acceptance letters, to college visits, to student housing forms – right into prom, graduation and the dreaded graduation party planning. There are a lot of balls in the air to be sure.
But from my perspective, the easiest event to navigate from that list is the graduation itself. Show up, watch the show, take some pictures and go home. Not much cost, no paperwork and no responsibility for the parents. Pretty much I have one job – find a seat.
But, whoa nelly, this year with the graduation moving to Battelle Hall in Columbus the wheels have come off the cart.
Everything about the move to the bigger venue (prompted by the current stadium construction) was pretty positive at first. People realized that holding graduation for 420 seniors inside the high school is a bad deal. There is no room for all families to attend, it’s uncomfortable and it can get unbelievably hot in the gym.
And then the schools released information about parking. Reduced price parking was made available in the garages adjoining the facility.
Parents quickly went online to secure the spots and just as quickly one of the garages spots “sold out” and then another did the same. From that point on, it was a feeding frenzy from “Shark Week.” People were in distress and vented online.
How would Maw Maws and Paw Paws survive the walk from anything but the closest garage? What about the safety of families being forced for walk outside on the mean streets of the Columbus? What if Marysville’s high school graduation filled up every available parking space in the Arena District?
The reality of the situation was that the district was given a limited number of cheaper parking passes for various garages. More passes became available the next day. In any case, there was plenty of room in the garages, you might just have to pay regular price or, God forbid, venture to a nearby lot outside. And keep in mind, the district has set up buses leaving the school to transport students and family who do not want to make the drive.
The parking issues were the biggest flare up but not the last. It was pretty eye-opening to see some of the questions other parents had.
There was a question about brining signs and Fatheads (a large cutout photograph of a student). Those were discouraged because it would obstruct the view of other attendees.
There were tons of questions about the dress code for graduates and those attending. There were questions about videotaping and photographing. There were questions about bringing food and flowers. There were questions about the duration of the ceremony.
After the Fathead question surfaced, organizers quickly got word out that helium balloons were not allowed in the facility and then confetti and Silly String was also prohibited. I like to think that mandate was overkill, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
I guess my point to all this is, why can’t we just go to the event and relax? It’s not a military invasion. Everyone will get there. Everyone will get a seat (the facility can hold 6,200). Sure something might go wrong or there might be a delay, but if you go early enough everything should be fine.
Parents seem to be exceptionally focused on their own itinerary, considering the day is supposed to be about their children. We should be honoring graduates, not stressing about every detail surrounding the event.
Save that obsessive energy for the graduation party.
-Chad Williamson is the managing editor at the Journal-Tribune.

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