Evidently I’m old-school.

I like to think I’m progressive and hip — geeze, even the very use of the word “hip” indicates I come from a bygone era — but I am amazed at some of the attire people wear when attending graduation ceremonies. Ceremony is a big hint. The word’s very definition indicates it’s a formal occasion.

Granted, it’s been 40 years since I turned the tassel, but when I graduated, people in attendance treated it as a formal affair and wore their “Sunday best.” I recently covered Pendleton’s graduation and couldn’t believe some of the clothing. Sure, it was held in the Round-Up Grounds, but I guarantee you cowboys getting bucked off horses in September will be better dressed than many who attended the June 2 ceremony.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to be casual and comfortable as the next person — dressing up in Eastern Oregon is more likely to mean starched jeans and a sport coat rather than evening gowns and tuxedos.

I wore capris, a collared shirt and a sun hat (NOT a baseball hat). I was definitely dressed nicer than a 20-something gal who was wearing what could best be described as an adult onesie.

Before you jump on the bandwagon dissing Pendleton’s lack of reverence to formality, Hermiston’s recent ceremony at the Toyota Center had its unceremonious moments as well.

Last summer during discussions about possible venues (and back-up sites) for the class of 2018 ceremony, Hermiston School District officials reiterated the importance of maintaining a tradition of treating graduation as a very formal and serious event. Chicago transplant Mark Gomolski, who joined the board after a write-in campaign last spring, had questioned whether they really needed to paint the gymnasium each year for the ceremony.

Further establishing the formal nature of the event, district officials even outlined appropriate attire for those donning a cap and gown. Clothing underneath, a letter said, could not include shorts or flip-flops. It also indicated that balloons, noise makers, silly string and confetti weren’t allowed during the ceremony.

However, the concession stands at the Toyota Center offered popcorn, nachos and other food and drinks. Seriously, what formal events feature the consumption of junk food? Do you think people snacked on meat pies during the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel?

While the consumption of food and drinks is available prior to formal performances and during intermission at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, it isn’t allowed in the main venue. And, less formal than the MET, A.C.T. A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle allows drinks in its theaters, provided they are in plastic cups with no ice. Food is a no-no.

It seems to me that those attending a gradation ceremony could forgo eating snack foods that are reminiscent of watching a sporting event. The next thing you know they’ll add a countdown and shot clock indicating how many graduates are still waiting to receive their diploma — or god forbid, having the audience engage in “The Wave” as a send-off to seniors.


Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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