Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Very Special Commencement Speech

A Very Special Commencement Speech
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

Recently, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer gave a speech to the Opheim High School graduating class, which consisted of one student, Jeff Greenwood. Greenwood will attend Dickinson State University in North Dakota next fall. While Governor Schweitzer spoke to a crowd of 100, I have my own ideas of what I might say to a graduating class of one.

Thank you, class of 2008. That is, Steve. This is a momentous occasion of your young lives, er, life. The world holds many possibilities for, well, you Steve. Whether it's college, trade school, or working on the family farm, you will--

What's that? Okay, whether it's college or. . . college, you will be presented with all sorts of choices, some good, some bad. And as I gaze out at this sea of young, uh, face here in this. . . Smokey's Restaurant and Bait Shop, I'm positive that your years at Traxel Elementary-Junior-Senior High School will provide you with a firm foundation to make those choices.

The word "commencement" comes from -- uh, I'll have the meat loaf and mashed potatoes with a side salad. Oh, and can I get a refill on my drink please?

The word "commencement" comes from -- Diet Coke -- comes from the -- Ranch dressing. You're welcome -- the Latin word "cominitiare," which means "beginning." So, even though this is the end of one chapter of your life, it's the beginning of adulthood, when you become men and women, uh, a man in this great state of ours.

Where? Wisconsin! Are you kidding me? You're leaving the Big Sky state to become a Cheesehead? Yeah, okay, they've got the Packers, but we've got the University of Montana. What school are you going to?

University of Wisconsin?! That's the Big 10. U of M is in the Big Sky Conference, here in God's country. Look, kid, the Badgers have a good football team, but the whole state is flatter than a pancake -- no ma'am, I don't want any pancakes -- Montana's got. . . okay, you know what? It's fine, that's fine. You do what you want.

As you begin your life -- in Wisconsin -- I hope you'll look back on your time at Traxel Elementary-Junior-Senior High School with fond memories. Memories of winning the school spelling bee, the school chess championship, quarterbacking the school football team to a -- oh jeez, a 0 and 48 record? Uh, I see you're also the valedictorian. Guess that also makes you the lowest student in class too. Heh heh. . . er, sorry, Mrs. Thompson.

Treasure those memories, young people -- er, person. They will -- I had the meatloaf. I think he had the cheeseburger. Thank you. Oh, and can I have some ketchup, please? Anyway, treasure those memories. They will become the stories that define your identity. Oh jeez, that's hot!

Ar tories mak uh ar bary effens. Sorry, that was really hot. I said, our stories make up our very essence.

I remember my own days in high school. I attended a school very much like yours, except we had a lot more students in my class. We would often -- what's that? Missoula. . . University of Montana. . . Business and Forestry Management.

I remember one time, right before my own high school graduation. I was with my friends Chris, Jon, and Mike, and we decided to pull one final senior prank the day before we graduated. So we piled into Mike's car and stole 20 For Sale signs from a local realtor. Then we stole a bed sheet from Mike's mom and spray painted the words "Eat me" on it. Then, when we were driving to the school, we found a dead possum and tossed it into the trunk with the signs. We stuck the signs in the school's front yard, then we climbed onto the roof and draped the sheet and possum on the front of the building.

That night, we all split up -- I had to walk home, because those guys were complaining about gas money -- so none of us would get caught. Unfortunately, Jon decided to drive past the school one more time to check out our handiwork, and got pulled over by the cops. So they reported it to the dean's office the next morning, and that's when -- what's that? Oh, sorry Mrs. Thompson. You're right, that's not a good story for young people.

So, my point is, young people, I mean Steve, even though you're attending a fine institution like. . . Wisconsin, your best education comes from life's experiences. Take time to see the world. Learn about other cultures and how people in different parts of the world live. Once you do that, you'll truly understand the meaning of -- Thanks, do you guys take Visa?

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