“Use your head for something besides a hat rack,” the piercing, yet motivational words of my mother. A no-nonsense elementary school teacher who demanded only the highest performance from her students, from the late 40’s till her retirement three decades later. Her talent was recognized, deservedly so, by the North Carolina Department of Education. Even though I never met my maternal grandparents, I understand both taught with the same professional standards, so apparently her gift was inherited.
And yes, occasionally she had to whisper those endearing words in my ears. During my school counseling career, I had to steal from my mother’s toolbox and use her script. It was not gender or grade dominant, but my guys and upperclassmen were winning the contest. They attempted to blow it off as a joke, but respectfully appreciated the significance of my concern. The freshmen were strongly encouraged to “straighten up” quickly, so they would not have a negative school profile.
Seniors, you are almost at the end. You have worked so hard the last four years to get to this moment, please don’t mess up with careless mistakes in the next few weeks. If you are wondering if bad things can happen to seniors before graduation, yes they can. Maybe it’s your assumption that you are invincible, and your excitement about graduation and all that follows has your common sense slightly distorted. If so, check yourself, because it’s not over, till it’s over; in other words, the diploma is in your hand.
The biggest culprit is the vulnerability to senior pranks. I could write a book on seniors who made regrettable mistakes right before graduation and lost their privilege to participate in the ceremony with their classmates, and/or had their college admission decision rescinded. Yes, a college can rescind a decision once the final transcript is received after graduation, due to unacceptable school progress and/or behavior violations.
Just this week, sixty-two seniors were arrested in New Jersey for trashing their school, urinating in hallways, greasing doorknobs, and flipping desks. In history, some seniors have organized mayhem events by throwing items, at a designated time, to cause disruption in the school day. At a school in Long Island, NY in 2011, seniors broke into the school and stole the school’s mascot, a bear, and replaced it with a 3-foot-tall plastic skeleton, dressed in a mini tuxedo. If you are thinking this was a harmless act, the incident was investigated as a burglary; not harmless to the police or the students’ colleges.
As the year is winding down, think about how much you have invested in your graduation and your future. Also think about your parents, and possibly all the other relatives who are in town to witness and celebrate your accomplishments. Refrain from allowing your peers to persuade you to join them in immature antics. Most importantly, “Use your head for something besides a hat rack!”
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