Commencement is a time when graduates come together one last time to say goodbye. It is built up to be one of the biggest events in your high school experience. This year’s edition did not live up to the hype. An important event like commencement needs to be well planned in order to run smoothly. There were a number of issues that made the night seem less special. WCI has been hosting commencements for over 50 years, so they should be capable of running a top notch event.
Graduates entered the gym to a beautiful performance by the senior orchestra and seated for the welcoming speech. However, there was a problem. The microphones on the podiums were not working. A severed cable shorted out the microphones and there was no immediate backup, leaving the audience and grads to wait in awkward silence. Eventually, the problem was solved when the tech crew found two wireless hand-held mics for everyone to use for the rest of the night. This wasn’t a great start to the special occasion.
It was nice that WCI had invited a representative from the school board to attend our commencement, however it would have been better if she actually remembered what school she was addressing. The chairperson was making a wonderfully inspiring speech about how proud we should be of our accomplishments at KCI…. hey wait, aren’t we WCI? She quickly corrected herself after a subtle booing from the parents and graduates.
High school is a four to five year process where students further their education and develop as individuals. Along this journey there are many people, including our teachers, that influence students lives and help them grow and figure out what they want to do with their futures. These teachers are important to the students lives whether they know it or not. The evening would have been more special had they all attended commencement to support the students in the final step of their journey. Some teachers were asked what they thought about the lack of attendance of their fellow colleagues at this years commencement. Mr. Bishop, a current WCI teacher, said “This year from what I could tell, was the lowest staff turn-out compared to all the other years. We saw nearly as many teachers that no longer work here in attendance as staff that currently work here. We left two rows designated for teachers empty. It was embarrassing”.
Going into commencement, it was expected that the graduates would get their time on stage, get their diploma and maybe get an award. However, this year’s commencement seemed more like an awards ceremony for a select number of graduates rather than celebrating the accomplishments of all the 150+ graduates. It makes sense to give out some awards for the general accomplishments, but there is no need to have 32 awards with long speeches. Parents were interviewed about what they thought of their child’s commencement. A parent of a graduate commented, “The commencement was too long. The awards could’ve been announced while the student crossed the stage combining the awards with the receiving of the diploma”.
The location was another factor that limited how memorable the experience could be. Commencement was held in WCI’s gymnasium, which is not the most glamourous or practical place to hold such an event. Many other high schools hold their graduation at Centre in the Square as opposed to their gymnasium. The sound problem that occurred in our gym would not have happened if our commencement was held at a proper venue. As well, seating for the parents would have been more comfortable. Many of the parents that were sitting in the bleachers complained that there was no back support for them. If students are paying $50 to attend their commencement, wouldn’t it be nice to have it held in a professional venue to make it more memorable?
When commencement is held in November, students that have already started university/college or entered the workforce have a difficult time making it back to Waterloo to attend. Jasmine Raines, a WCI graduate who currently attends university right down the street at Wilfrid Laurier, was unable to attend commencement in November because she had a midterm at the same time. Many other students had this same conflict. Some students had to leave the post-commencement reception early in order to travel back to their university to write a midterm the next day.
While some of the problems with this years commencement may have been a one time occurrence there is still room for improvement in the future. Graduates and families should have a good memory of their commencement since it is one of the biggest events in their high school experience. But at the end of the day, being with your friends for one last time will always make it a special and memorable event.