The kiss off

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This past weekend it was graduation fever in Suffolk.

The three public high schools held their graduation exercises Saturday, and I was there to watch the King’s Fork Bulldogs walk across the stage.

As every high school graduate could tell you, there really are very few experiences as exciting as those moments waiting for your name to be called.


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It was great fun to be in King’s Fork’s gymnasium and watch the nerves, anxiety and just the joy of the graduates.

Maybe it was my uplifted spirits from hanging out with the class of 2009, but earlier this week a Web story about a young man being denied his diploma caught my attention.

It turns out that a senior at Bonny Eagle High School in Maine was sent back to his seat diploma-less after he blew a kiss to his mom who was in the audience.

According to an article on, School Superintendent Suzanne Lukas said that “if a student doesn’t adhere to the expectations, then the consequences are clearly spelled out.”

Because acknowledging your parent in a time of excitement apparently goes against expectations.

I’m sure that these students were warned time and time again to listen for their name, walk across the stage and make no deviations from acceptable behavior.

I remember that speech from when I was an 18-year-old kid in an oversized gown and cap.

But I still remember classmates hearing their name called and waving uncontrollably to friends and family members. They hugged our principal and assistant principals. Some even “raised the roof” (I promise that was cool at the time…).

I also remember that out of all of my “W” last name friends, I was chosen to sneak a deck of cards into graduation.

Listen, there were 400-plus kids in my graduation, and we were in the back of the line. That was a long time to hear a bunch of names, so we needed a back-up form of entertainment. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re playing Go Fish.

Thankfully, we didn’t go to school in Maine. There we would have been chucked back to tenth grade for such shenanigans. Go Fish is certainly a bigger offense than a kiss.

A kiss.

Let’s be honest, this young man did nothing crude, offensive or even provocative. He was just celebrating his achievement with the people he loved. And since graduations are celebrations of four long years of hard work, what harm did he do?

Thankfully, the parents, teachers and students at King’s Fork clearly understood the real meaning of graduating Saturday morning – they were having a ball.