Reading is Harder Than It Looks.

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.


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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PrincipalsPage Thinks This is Funny.

Graduation brings many gifts (the end of school, luggage, and cash to name a few).

The grandest of them all is the fact that I can blog about my experiences with the graduating Senior Class.

As soon as they received their diploma, I’m free (as are they).

Don (if in fact that is Don...).

I’m no longer under any sort of moral contractual agreement not to embarrass them on the world wide web.

Not that they would ever read this drivel, but you never know.

From each class, I learn many lessons.

As I see them grow from snot-nosed kindergarteners to snot-nosed teenagers it is hard not to take something away from our time together.

A recent class (I don’t want to be too specific on the year just in case one of them gets a law degree… or owns a gun) taught me an invaluable lesson during a teacher’s evaluation.

As I watched the teacher work her magic, I noticed one young man paying extra special attention.

His name is Don (not really… the PrincipalsPage Legal Department advised me to change his name… or maybe I’m using his real name just to confuse you…).

He was hanging on every word the teacher said.

Each time a question was asked, his hand quickly went up to answer.

Don(?) seemed disappointed when the teacher called on other students.

This happened about four times before he finally got a chance to participate.

He could hardly contain his excitement.

The answer almost flew right out of his mouth.

Then something odd happened.

He answered the question by going 3rd person.

He said “Don thinks the answer is an adverb.”


The answer was correct, but who goes 3rd person right in the middle of class?

Even weirder it was like no one noticed but me.  The teacher and the students never cracked a smile.

No one even acknowledged it.

During the rest of the evaluation this was all I could think about.

High school boy goes 3rd person for no apparent reason in English.

A couple of days later I was walking by this class, so I decided to drop in and get to the bottom of what happened.

I asked the teacher if she had noticed Don going 3rd person during her evaluation.

She said she hadn’t, but by the rest of the class’s laughter I could tell they did (by the way, compliments to them for not making a big deal of it during the evaluation).

So I asked Don (if in fact this is his real name) why he answered the adverb question in 3rd person.

After a long thoughtful and completely respectful pause he said…

…“Don doesn’t know why Don answered in 3rd person".

Fair enough.

The lesson here is don’t go 3rd person.  Ever.

I’m not sure why, just don’t.

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