I went to Central's graduation last night. Central's ceremonies are always raucus affairs. There's usually at least one person screaming at any given second. The woman behind us kept screaming, "Michelle Broadway is my niece!!!
This year it was at Municipal Auditorium, also known as the echo chamber. Family members and well-wishers were seated in the upper levels of the stands, a fair distance from the floor, where the graduates sat in rows dressed in their caps and gowns. This detachment, plus the echoing wails, made the whole thing feel surreal, as if it were a dream of a graduation, not a real one.
City Councilman Terry Riley spoke, and I couldn't understand much of what he said, other than to wait until you're married to have kids. And outgoing superintendent Bernard Taylor spoke too. He mentioned the recent study that showed that black men are essentially disappearing and dying off in the United States. In light of this he was thrilled that Central's valedictorian and salutatorian were males. He also noted that Central had a much larger graduating class than in years past, and he turned to the principal, William McClendon, and commended him for a job well done.
I turned to Allie and scoffed, "Yeah, it's easy to graduate them when you don't teach them anything."
I thought about how just the other day I was riding in a car with Dominique and he mentioned he was getting a B in Spanish. To which I said something really simple like, Como estås? or Te gustas Español?
And he was like, "Joe. I said I got a B in Spanish. I didn't say I know Spanish."
Spanish is the only foreign language offered at Central. Dominique is going to the University of Oklahoma on a debate scholarship. I hope he can survive.
Afterward I caught up with Geoffery and gave him a small gift. He told me, with a note of amazement, that there were 250 students who crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. I repeated my crack about not learning. And he said, "No, Joe. Half these graduates are GEDs."
He pointed at a man in a cap and gown.
"That's my cousin," he said. "He's twenty-two."