On May 26th, 2006, I attended the first graduation I'd been to in 7 years, watching my little sisters Kourtney, Kandice and Jaci, among others, grow up and move on. I was also introduced to one of the top five names ever, that being Sammy Funkhauser.
Well, last week I went this time to Spain Park High School's graduation, witnessing my bro-in-law Tyler "The Sexy Beast" Campbell walk and get his diploma. I also proudly watched my friends Garrett Cheney, Steven Hunt, Alan Renfroe and Trey Cartledge and a few others get a pass into college life... and like last year, I figured I'd talk about it...
And since most of you don't know any of the people I'm talking about, I'll try to make it entertaining.
Held in the Wright Center Auditorium of Samford University, the night started eventful as I arrived with the Lovely Steph Leann, and meeting up with the Campbell Clan. Everyone was there except, of course, for Tyler, who had taken the wrong exit and was downtown in 6pm traffic... mind you the Wright Center is in the same city that Tyler has grown up all his life.
Then, the even better news came when it was discovered that Tyler, in all his genius and wisdom, left his cap at home. His cap, as in, "cap and gown". The one with special tassle, because he's Salutatorian (unlike last year at Oak Mountain High's 133 valedictorians and 132 salutatorians, there was only 2 and 1, respectively, at Spain Park).
Somewhere, someone had an extra cap and correct colored tassle, so all was well, but not before Mama Campbell made a few threats she'd never carry out for fear of a future Cold Case Files being based on her life.
First up was the Senior Class Chaplain, which shocked me because... well, they had a chaplain. This guy actually prayed. To God. And not only called for a moment of silence for lost classmates, but actually stretched that moment to like, 30 seconds.
Next up was the principal. Spain Park's Principal? Billy Broadway. Good ol' Billy, a country boy with a country accent. He gave an amusing little speech on the graduates, and had me on his side until he said something like "...you'll be facing the problems of tomorrow, like global warming" I missed the next few lines because I threw up in my mouth, but was fine after that.
Then, the speeches. There were four, from the Senior Class President, the Salutatorian, and the two Valedictorians... I rate them as follows:
President Addison Leigh Ragsdale gave a charming little speech on life, and how the graduates were seemingly playing a real life game of Monopoly. First as Frosh, you'd run that first strip where all the crappy properties were, by the time you're a Junior, you're driving (hence, "Free Parking") and the Senior spot is Broadway and Park Place, you get the drift. It was short, it was light, and it was entertaining. I was going to give her a A-, but when she was done, someone in the back gve her a slow-clap... warranted a step up. Grade: A
Salutatorian Ronald Tyler Sexy Beast Campbell spoke next, and though I can't remember much of his speech beyond the Teddy Roosevelt quote he gave, I do remember liking it. He spoke way too fast at the beginning, which was a shame, because he tossed out a few jokes that would have gotten some laughs, but his speed caused most people to miss 'em. Grade: B+
Valedictorian James Robert William didn't start out too well, as a few jokes were mumbled and missed due to speed of speech, and the ones that did come out clearly fell completely flat. I was worried we might be looking at a "C" grade speech, but he saved it quickly... he made a crack about Hoover High School (football rivals across town) and MTV's "Two-a-Days". When the thunderous applause at the Hoover jab simmered, Jimmy Robby Willy had everyone in his hands. He made several great pop culture references, and ends up with a A-
Valedictorian David Marshall Harris ended up with 38 scholarships to colleges across the country. Thirty eight. I'm not sure there were half that in my senior class combined. And when he walked up, I thought to myself, "he looks like he earned 38 scholarships", cause... well, he did. His speech revolved around the premise of Forrest Gump, and how life truly is a box of chocoates and so on, made a great nod to Indiana Jones, and made us laugh here and there. But, overall, I'd put him with a B-
Then, Billy B'way started handing out the diplomas. The mandatory "please hold all applause until everything is done" was given, so the first dozen or so graduates (smart kids first) got no love from the audience. Then, you hear a slight clap here, a small "wooo" there, and when Billy B'way doesnt silence them, it builds. The audience tests the waters little by little, until finally, every kid is getting cheers and affection. Typically, it happens when a disabled kid graduates, and so when Laura Lee Hughes walked across, it was over. All the grads and the entire audience roared as she used crutches to get her diploma, and it went from there.
Since I don't know 98% of these kids, their names are fair game, as far as I'm concerned...
**I sorta wanted Kendall Leigh Frazier to trip and fall, just so I could shout "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" (instead, Andrew Chabert Ogle had the honors of stumbling on stage, though he didnt fall)
**I was curious how many of the mafia attended Frank Robert Gambino's graduation. He is family, ya know.
**Don't tell me that the nickname "Beer" has never been used for Robert Alan Heinke
**If I'm James Tyrone McWain, I'm calling my dorm room "The McWain Center". Seriously.
**I wonder... if Christopher James Taylor truly has seen fire and has seen rain, or just those sunny days he thought would never end.
**Mary Katherine Wackenhut. Too... many... jokes...
**It's gotta be good to be Parker Louis Holt. I mean, come on... he can't lose
**If I'm buddies with Elijah Chai Ngaruiya, I'm calling him "Soy"
**I've seen the future for Jonathan Austin Brook... he looks like a starving artist
**Names that make me think I've watched the future computer engineers graduate tonight: T'Chandria ChiMaine King, Laith Al Hundeidi, Manika Iqbal Issa and my favorite "I'll Never Say This Name Cause I'll Muck It Up" Name, Heber Arauso Viana Paiva. And Taylor Jones too.
**Porn name of the night? Caleb Zachary Bedgood. Runners up? Rizwan Amin Poonawalla. Somewhere, Brock Landers and Chest Rockell are looking for successors.
**"...don't come around, uh oh...Randall Otto Paul der Kaemmerer's in town, uh oh..." Okay, I reached. Sue me.
**William Quinton Gurley and Austin Nash Priddy. Gotta be tough. One's a Gurley Man and the other is a Priddy Boy.
So now, we wait for next year's class, sure to be full of more strange names and bad jokes...