Thursday, May 28, 2009
Graduation and baseball
Perhaps you saw that five Randall High School seniors graduated Wednesday night. Not with the rest of their class, but just the five of them at the Buffalo airport.
Those five are also on the Raiders baseball team, which is the Region I-4A regional semifinals Friday night and Saturday afternoon in Snyder against Fort Worth Arlington Heights. Randall's graduation is set for 5 p.m. Friday.
This is an issue every year for teams who are still in the baseball playoffs the weekend of graduation, but none more so than in West Texas' Region I where travel is an issue. Most teams will have an odd Thursday/Saturday best-of-3 series or quirky times to make sure the seniors can go through formal commencement exercises with their classmates. Teams are handcuffed further since the UIL won't allow for lost school time except for a Friday.
"We have dealt with graduation and baseball more years than not the last 10 years," said Randall principal Steve Williams.
Randall and Arlington Heights were prepared to play a Thursday-Saturday series like the Raiders did a year ago in this round so baseball seniors could participate in Friday's commencement. That means an extra day of hard driving in the wee hours to get back to the baseball site rather than just a night's stay in a motel on a Friday-Saturday series. Last year it was a drive back to Abilene.
Even though there was a day in between, last year's Randall seniors chose not to participate in commencement. Oh, those crazy kids. Heck, it's just graduation, who can afford to be cooped in a car for six extra hours?
This year, after Randall won its regional quarterfinal series last weekend, Williams said he was approached by the parents of the Randall seniors.
"This year's seniors and their parents started talking among themselves a couple of weeks ago, and then came to us after we won Saturday and asked us not to do that again (Thursday-Saturday series)," Williams said. "They asked us to play Friday and Saturday (with graduation for them earlier in the week). This was from the parents and the kids. We were prepared to play late night Thursday and two on Saturday."
And so the Canyon ISD less than enthusiastically agreed.
"It's with a great deal of reluctance that we're playing at 7 p.m. on Friday," Williams said.
To each his own. I'm not dispensing advice to parents here. If they're fine with it, so be it. But I wonder if a few years from now, all involved might regret it.
If it's my son, we're doing everything possible to walk the stage with the rest of his class. And if that means hopping in a car heading three hours to Snyder while he sleeps in the backseat as soon as graduation is over, so be it. That's the price you pay for success and achievement.
I mean, that is the purpose of being in school for 12 years, isn't it, to, you know, graduate. Certainly, these five Randall seniors did. But it seems a bit short-sighted to do it that way. There's a bonding experience of being a part of your entire senior class, a once-in-a-lifetime evening of a formal graduation with your peers. Otherwise, why not mail out the diplomas, forget commencement, and call it good?
Randall officials believe there would have been a repeat of a year ago with baseball seniors not participating in Friday's commencement had Wednesday night's arrangements not been made. Probably no one wanted that.
"In their defense, these parents and kids put a lot of time and money into baseball and to get to this point, but they also put a lot of time and money to get to graduation," Williams said. "I can see both sides."