You have dreamed of this day for years.
You studied until the wee hours to pass the tests: the TAKS exit exams; the SAT/ACT entrance exams; the final six weeks and/or semester exams.
The year passed in a blur. The senior class fees; deposits on class ring, cap and gown; the costs for senior activities; attire, transportation, and additional entertainment costs of the prom; the yearbook (you’ve GOT to have your very last one!); the final payments due on any outstanding fees and purchases.
After graduation, there was the fabled after party. You lost sleep trying to decide what you would wear, where you would get it, how you would be able to afford it. Now, finally, it is here! You and your entire family, all your friends and loved ones are pumped!
It is a tremendous disappointment for the graduate, like Caisha Gayles, whose family causes her BIG day to be marred with their thoughtless behavior and their disrespect for others. Because of the rude behavior of her loved ones, Ms. Gayles did not have the honor of taking her just due bows. She was denied her time in the limelight and the hard earned fruits of her years spent to get to this place in her life. Missing the opportunity to receive her diploma with dignity and deserved pride, sharing these honors in the celebration which followed was indeed a huge price to pay. However, sadly, her family broke the contract; they forgot that rules are set in place for a reason.
When she and her parents signed the contract, they made an agreement to abide by those rules. As with any legally-binding contract, violation of that agreement means the one who broke it will be held in account. She and her parents knew this beforehand and agreed to the terms within by affixing their signatures to that contract, thus signifying their agreement.
It is disheartening to think that we, as a civilized nation, refuse to hold our emotions in check until the appropriate moment. Imagine that in a graduating class of 350 that 350 sets of family and friends behaved in such a manner. What level of chaos do you think might have resulted? How long do you imagine the ceremony would have been to allow the time for individual celebrations following the announcement of each of those 350 graduates’ names? Why should five members among these equally proud, ecstatic 350 be afforded privileges denied their fellow candidates?
Yes, it may have been a bitter pill to swallow for the grad, dealt by forces he or she had no humanly power to prevent. However, it does send the message that all young men and women entering into our greater society from the sheltered, lenient world of a free educational system. That message is that contracts should not be taken lightly; they need to know that rules broken must be attended and paid; the time to challenge a rule or law or clause is not after you have not held up your end of the bargain, but before you make the agreement binding with a signature. They need to know that they will be held accountable for their own misbehavior.
Community service is not such a large price to pay for the unseen benefits of this lesson. I personally wish to extend a sincere congratulations to Caisha Gayles and all the grads of 2007. Now, don’t allow one day to write your entire life story. Go on out there, start living your life… and pay attention to the details.