By Dom Cioffi
My son graduated from elementary school last week. I never thought you could graduate from elementary school. I just thought it ended and the next year you started middle school.
But apparently, times have changed.
It turned out to be quite the festive occasion with a large school ceremony, bouquets of flowers making the rounds, envelopes of money changing hands and plenty of family celebrations following afterward.
My son picked up on all the gifts being presented to his classmates and asked what I got for him. I quickly replied that I was the one who should be receiving the gift since I was the one who had to harass him EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF THE YEAR to do his homework.
I then proceeded to tell him that when I graduated from elementary school, I walked home. There were no parties, ceremonies or monetary gifts. I simply gathered the remaining items from my desk and walked home.
In fact, I didn’t participate in a graduation ceremony until I stepped out of high school – and I think I walked home from that event, too!
College was a much bigger deal. And rightly so. For that occasion my classmates and I celebrated in grand fashion and my entire family arrived to take part. I don’t recall receiving any gifts then either, but I was very conscious that my parents had paid for four years of college and I considered that gift enough.
However, in between high school and college I had another graduation ceremony.
Upon graduating from high school my parents insisted that I attend a post-graduate year at a New England prep school. They felt (and rightfully so) that I was not prepared for college and therefore needed one more year of intensive schooling before being unleashed into the collegiate realm. I agreed only because it gave me an extra year of basketball, which would make my prospects of playing in college that much better.
Having come from the public school system, the year was excruciatingly difficult. I was an undisciplined student and it showed. I struggled initially but eventually found my way and ended up excelling in both sports and studies.
However, I made one fatal miscalculation that changed the course of my life.
During the second half of the year I took a course in computer programming. It was taught by a true egghead: a close-to-retirement, failed computer scientist who wound up teaching kids basic programming skills because he was too socially awkward to make it in the business world. He was an unhappy, elderly single man who seemed angry at life.
My miscalculation centered on not hiding my total disregard of him as a human. I always treated my teachers with the respect they deserved, but this man rubbed me the wrong way and I could not hide it.
Subsequently I paid very little attention to him or what he had to teach. It didn’t help that I hated programming – I even went so far as to claim that I would never have a career where I had to sit behind a computer.
Unfortunately, this teacher had the last laugh by conveniently failing me on the final exam essay (what kind of teacher gives an essay for a computer programming final?).
I didn’t know I failed the class until graduation day, at which time the headmaster approached me and informed me that I would be able to participate in the graduation ceremonies, but the degree I received on stage would be blank. I would need to pass a summer course in order to get credit and receive my actual diploma.
Dressed in my cap and gown I proceeded to walk with my classmates and go through the graduation motions, but as promised, there was no degree in my fancy hardbound folder when I walked off the stage.
So imagine how I felt when my mother ran up to me directly after the ceremonies begging to see the diploma that her son had so studiously worked toward. Now that was an uncomfortable moment!
The irony, of course, is that I got an “A” in that summer computer class and then went on to excel in a career specifically focused on programming, where I sit behind a computer every day.
This week’s feature is actually due some congratulations. As of Sunday night, “Jurassic World,” has officially broken the all-time record for greatest opening weekend with a box office take of $208 million.
Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, “Jurassic World” builds upon the popular franchise by imagining a revamped amusement park island where the dinosaurs have gotten bigger, stronger and faster – and subsequently more dangerous.
This one is a true summer blockbuster hit. It has action, adventure and a little intrigue, but more than anything it has the terrifying thrills to send even the bravest moviegoers slouching into their seats.
I suggest officially kicking off the arrival of summer by checking this film out. It may not be the most intellectually stimulating film ever made, but it sure is fun to watch.
A roaring “B+” for “Jurassic World.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.