Reading is Harder Than It Looks.

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Graduation has come and gone.What's Your Name Again?

Another school year in the yearbooks.

It’s always an exciting time for students (and really hot for everyone else).

For me, it is more stressful than exciting. 

My stress comes from the fact that I have to read.

Read?

Yes, read.

Normally, I am pretty confident with my ability to read.  After all, I’ve been practicing since my kindergarten days in the early 1970’s.

That was a special time.

I had my whole life ahead of me.  Not like today, when I have half my life ahead of me (if all goes well).

I also had a bowl haircut and knee patches on my jeans.

It was a look (don’t judge me).

Each year at graduation, I have the responsibility of reading the names of the graduates as they walk up on stage to receive their diplomas.

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not easy.

Don’t get me wrong, the difficult part isn’t being overwhelmed by waves of emotion as I send another group of Seniors out into the world.

It’s the reading.

And there will be a new group of Seniors next year (sorry, old Seniors).

Pronouncing names is not as easy as it looks.

Sure, I’ve known most of the students for years.  What I haven’t known are their middle names.

There’s something about reading off their first, middle, and last names that makes it complicated.

I always practice reading the list at least a week in advance so I will feel prepared.

And I never do.

Two minutes before the ceremony begins, I completely forget every student’s name.

In fact, as I look down from the stage I could swear I’ve never seen these kids before.

Who are they?  Why are they here?  What’s with the funny hats?

The look like total strangers.

Panic sets in.

Sweating begins.

And this leads to my worst nightmare, which is me mispronouncing the name of a graduate in front of their entire family.

The pressure.

Who wants me babbling like an idiot on a graduation video they will watch over and over again (or more likely never).

Graduation is the Senior’s opportunity to celebrate his or her accomplishments.

For me it’s a chance to do something stupid in public.

For them it’s a special night.

For me another day in a superintendent’s life.

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4 Responses to “Reading is Harder Than It Looks.”


  1. Karen
    on May 22nd, 2011
    @ 8:58 pm

    In my first job interview the principal’s name was Dr. Fulk. I was very nervous and made the obvious mispronunciation. Got the job anyway.


  2. Raquel
    on May 23rd, 2011
    @ 12:54 pm

    And with names today I imagine it gets harder and harder but after 13 years of hard work the least you guys could do it get their name right. Maybe you should have the names submitted with a pronunciation?
    Good luck.


  3. Jason Fountain
    on May 23rd, 2011
    @ 6:40 pm

    HaHa – great post! Reminds me of a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”


  4. K
    on Jun 6th, 2011
    @ 12:04 pm

    Kindergarten in the early 70′s? You must be too young to be a principal, right?

    Wow, I just aged a decade.

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