Graduates, Party On!

Graduates, Party On! 
By Walter Ang
March 9, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

March ushers in one of the most anticipated epochs in academic life? graduation. This milestone causes unimaginable anxiety for countless students who toil and sweat all year round, some to excel, others to just barely pass. For these hardy souls, the fruit of several years' excruciating labor is getting up onstage to proudly announce that they've survived it all.

For all the hardships one has to go through in order to graduate, you would think that graduation rites should be more merry and less staid. After all, the graduates are all young and vibrant! When they succeed in something, they'd rather scream and holler in jubilation than sit still for hours on end.

The graduates should be able to have fun and enjoy this momentous occasion to the hilt. With this in mind, don't you think these solemn events ought to have a more festive atmosphere? Graduation rites should be like a giant party and have themes much the same way some fast-food chains have theme parties for special occasions.

This is actually a resourceful way of saving money in these trying times. Think about it, the graduates and their families will usually have a party or dinner celebration after the ceremonies anyway. By combining the rites and the party, we save countless people time, effort and money.

Graduation ceremonies are as special as occasions can possibly get. If we take our cue from these theme parties, then here are some ways we can liven up the proceedings:

Jungle Theme
This theme will be very apt since school can be like a jungle at times, with classmates (and sometimes, teachers too) who act and smell like animals instead of humans. Fill the stage with vines and coconut leaves and you'll be on your way. Just like Tarzan, the graduates can give out a blaring whoop when they get onstage. This will signify a release of all their pent up energy, frustrations and of course, exhilaration at finally graduating. It would be wonderful if we could have a trained monkey give out the diplomas.

Aquatic Theme
For your set design, you can use faux corals (less the eco police come after you) placed ever so strategically across the stage. The top five students can be seated in giant half-opened clams. Remember the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid"? If there's enough money for extra effects, a bubble making machine can also be utilized.

Better yet, the whole ritual can be held at a beach resort, preferably one that has a giant twisting water slide. Graduates can receive their diplomas on the top of the slide. Then, they'll slide down into the pool so they can literally make a big splash.

Afterwards, everyone can just hang out in the pool and cool off. Parents and guests will be served one complimentary piƱa colada each. Fun!

Space Theme
Students are always being told to "reach for the stars," so this is just a creative way to embody this notable piece of advice. Since the Star Wars franchise is enjoying a resurgence, it can be a fantastic source of ideas.

Can you just imagine how much fun it would be to hear Darth Vader's theme while the graduates march down the aisle instead of hearing the same old "Triumphant March" from Verdi's opera "Aida"? For the less morbid batches, they can stick to the opening theme of the movie instead.

The top five students can be seated like the Jedi council. If the valedictorian is female, she can wear a Queen Amidala headdress instead of the usual toga cap. If male, he can wear, you guessed it, Vader's mask. Don't forget to breathe heavily!

Congratulations to the millennium's first batch of graduates!

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My Funny Graduation

My Funny Graduation 
By Walter Ang
March 2000
Philippine Star

For a multitude of students, March signals the end of several years' worth of anguish and suffering. At last, they can step forward and leave behind them forever the horrors of academic life. For in this month of months, graduation is finally at hand.

Proud parents and friends beam with pride as they show off wallet sized photos of their graduates. They throw parties and dinner celebrations to mark the special occasion. With this much people bursting with exhilaration, it would be such a waste to have them sit still for hours on end at the graduation ceremonies. To ask the graduates and their loved ones to contain their joy by sitting down and clamming up would be a disservice to their sensibilities.

Year in, year out, the same old rites never change. It goes on and on in a less than exciting pace. The youth of today deserve a little update in the ceremonies. Young people are born of the MTV generation. They like to drive fast and eat street food. They relish a little newness, little alteration.

With this in mind, perhaps organizers of the graduation events should consider injecting a little more life and enthusiasm to the program sequence of most rites. If MTV has a different concept for each of its awards shows, then wouldn't it be great to use the same idea for graduation rites as well? Here are some themes we could utilize:

1. Circus Theme. 
The circus is a childhood icon filled with happy memories. To reinforce the joy of graduating, we could couple the two and double our fun with a circus themed graduation rite. Why endure insipid speeches when the speaker can deliver it with a loud booming voice a la ringmaster style? Perhaps a large elephant can use its trunk to give out the diplomas.

To add more excitement, we could have the students jump through burning hoops and walk through shards of glass before they receive their diplomas. The audience will be allowed to munch on popcorn and cotton candy for the duration of the rites, of course.

2. Drama Theme. 
Some schools emphasize academics more than they do extra curricular activities. As a result, students who have a flair for the arts are left unmotivated and unfulfilled. These creative and theatrical people should have a hand in conceptualizing the graduation rites. They could release their pent up artistic frustrations by lending a little Broadway style pizzazz to the event.

One way would be for the stage to be draped with heavy black cloth. Students will go up the stage wearing heavy, wrought iron chains. This signifies their agonizing plight in going through years and years of back breaking school work. When they receive their diplomas, they raise their shackled arms and break the chains!

When all of the graduates have received their diplomas, they let out a loud cheer in unison, and the black cloth drops away to reveal a multitude of color and light, with merry music playing.

3. Cheering Theme. 
Instead of having the graduation rites in a stuffy old auditorium, schools can have it in an open air field with spectators all around. This not only adds zest to the event, but it saves time and money for everyone concerned by combining two of the most anticipated activities in the academic calendar.

Different classes will have to complete at least one human pyramid before they can get their diplomas. They must also present one cheer concerning their favorite Algebraic theorem and another one concerning their favorite English grammar rule. Just picture this: "Give me an I before E! Except! Except! Except after C! Woohoo!" Parents and families will be given pompoms and streamers to cheer on the graduates. Great fun for everyone!

Congratulations to the millennium's first batch of graduates!