you are insignificant

on

you are insignificant
a speck of dust
paused in one moment
then fluttering away
without moving the world

Definition of INTEGRITY

1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

Heritage High seniors, pranksters and non-pranksters, provide memorable graduation The text of it is below:

There were two graduation ceremonies involving seniors from Brentwood’s Heritage High School on Saturday morning. One involved paint.

The official commencement took place at Patriot Stadium on campus, during which most of the approximately 420 members of the class of 2012, dressed in powder blue and canary yellow gowns, received their diplomas.

There also was a private event held at a home in Brentwood for 51 students suspended by the school for end-of-the-year senior pranks that involved, among other things, washable paint.

“It was positive, joyful, heartfelt,” said Deanna Szopinski, whose son Zach was one of the suspended students. “Some of the kids painted their caps, which they wouldn’t have been allowed to do at school.”

Aside from a buffeting wind, the school ceremony went off without a hitch, though people made note of the missing seniors.

“You look out and can’t help but think there should be more chairs out there,” said parent Douglas Uyehara, pointing at the blue seats near the 40-yard line.

Seniors Kiely Ford, Julie Roberts and Michelle Bryant said there was a definite feeling of wanting the school year to be over given the media attention Heritage received this past week.
“I’m ready for it to be done,” Ford said.

Added Roberts: “There’s definitely a feeling of there being an elephant in the room today.”

“It’s brought a little sadness to what should be a happy moment,” said parent Lisa Campos. “It’s already a small class compared to those behind them.”

But when the seniors took the field, the attention turned to the pomp and circumstance surrounding the soon-to-be graduates. Their caps and gowns were unadorned by personal flourishes. Heritage High’s tradition is to have graduates not wear frills such as leis or paint their caps, but to be united as a class, vice principal Guy Rogilien said.

Principal Larry Oshodi lauded the students for reaching a “significant milestone in the amazing race that is your life,” and urged them to conduct themselves with values such as integrity, generosity and excellence.

Salutatorian Zainab Taymuree noted her Afghan roots and thanked the “class of one-two” for making her feel like she was “one, too.” The senior band and choir ensemble, named American Avenue after the school’s address, sang a version of the song “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire, dedicating it to teacher Sandra McKillip, who died of cancer earlier in the week.

Each distributed diploma was met with cheers, and the occasional air horn and whistle, from various sections of the bleachers. As the graduates left the field, many were greeted with hugs and presented with leis and flowers from proud relatives, eager to take pictures.

“I thought it was awesome,” said senior Austin Rodda.

The private ceremony, three days in the planning (including a rehearsal) was by invitation only. The location was kept secret to prevent media coverage.

The student with the highest GPA among the 51 suspended seniors was designated the valedictorian and spoke at the private commencement. The president of the student body, one of those suspended, also spoke, as did a senior who skipped the school ceremony to attend the private function.

“It was really good,” said Kathi Storer, whose daughter Taylor was among the suspended students. “Nothing negative. They thanked their teachers just the way they would have. They all wore caps and gowns, and when their names were announced, they got to say where they were going to college. It was a wonderful way to end the week.”

Students were given an official-looking “diploma of integrity.” At the end of the ceremony they moved their tassels and, as their fellow seniors had done at Patriot Staduim, tossed their caps in the air.

“I think it was well put together in such a short period of time by some very wonderful supporters in the community that supported these students,” Szopinski said. “We had some people who attended the Liberty graduation Friday night and said hands-down this was much better — more relaxed, not so much uniformity.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much the volunteers and parents did for us,” Taylor Storer said. “I can’t imagine what we would have done without them. Probably chilling at home. Instead we got to walk at a mini-graduation. I’m really thankful.”

I have to say something about the “diploma of integrity.” Did they not check the meaning of the word before they made those diplomas? (And unless they didn’t pass their classes, the seniors will still get their diplomas, as far as I know.) Let me repeat the number one meaning:

Definition of INTEGRITY

1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility

How did these young adults exactly exemplify the first definition of INTEGRITY with their final acts as seniors? Oh yes, they vandalized their school! Oh, and tied a lamb to a post. Oh, and slapped stickers around the school that said, “I don’t give a F—, I”m a senior.” Yes, that shows INTEGRITY, doesn’t it? (Can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my words?) And when they were caught or confessed because they were going to get caught anyway, a handful of them decided that their punishment was “too severe” and went to court to try and get their suspensions reversed/stayed. You know, because that shows INTEGRITY.

Part of me is sad that these seniors made such a costly mistake but in the scopes of their lives, it will hopefully end up being a small though significant thing. It is sad that they basically threw away their chance at walking the stage as their names are called to mark the end of their public school careers. Before they dipped their feet in that paint or tied that lamb to the post, perhaps they should have considered THE BIG PICTURE. Perhaps they should have considered THE CONSEQUENCES of their actions. And perhaps, just perhaps, they should have shown a little more respect for their school, their classmates, and themselves. School was their home away from home and that’s how they treated it?

They’ll admit on camera that what they did was wrong but they also tried to say that what they did wasn’t so bad. It was “washable” paint, after all. Never mind that it took six custodial staff members a whole day to clean up HALF the mess. And the lamb wasn’t mistreated, it had food and water. Never mind that it was tied to a pole overnight in an area that has had wild animal sighting. It wasn’t so bad. But from the faces I saw on camera with those signs saying “I’m sorry,” I saw few with actual remorse or despair. They thought it was a joke.

The parents who spoke on camera were no better. Every word they spoke to defend the actions of their children and decry the actions of the school just had me shaking my head. I wonder, if it had not been their children caught, suspended, and barred from commencement, would they have felt so wrenched in the heart? Would they be defending those kids as fervently as they did their own? I understand they want to support their children but at point do they look at their kids and say, “You’ve got to face the music, kiddo. You knew it was wrong and you still did it.” When does that moment happen if not at the end of high school and at the brink of adulthood?

Maybe it’s easy for me to say these things because I am mostly disconnected from it all (aside from fielding calls from the media and parents). I don’t have children in the schools and I don’t know the kids involved. Perhaps I’m on the side of the administration because I believe in following the rules and I used to work at a jail and I know what happens to those who break the law. My hope is that someone in those suspended kids’ lives gives them the dress down they deserve because it’s obviously not going to come from the parents (at least the ones who think it necessary to go to court). And I hope that the lesson is not lost from all of this and that these young adults realize there are consequences to actions. It’s not as if they didn’t know what could happen, they were told. Hopefully this is the last time they make such a big mistake in defying the rules.

I will say bravo for the parents who decided to give their suspended kids the graduation they couldn’t have because they chucked it one night with paint and a lamb. Aside from that HUGE MISTAKE, I’m sure the kids worked hard the rest of their high school days and they should be duly recognized. But next time you decide to reward bad behavior with a diploma, skip the word INTEGRITY.