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March of the 8-year-olds

The other night I went to a meeting at my son's school to discuss 3rd grade graduation plans. I was disappointed to learn there wouldn't be a big-name commencement speaker, like Maya Angelou or U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. But there may be an ice cream truck.

Yep, it's true. My son and 120 or so of his classmates will be marching beneath a balloon archway to mark the completion of grades K-3. The PTO makes a big deal of this because the third-graders will be leaving their small, comfortable building and moving on to the larger, district-wide middle school.

It used to be that graduation ceremonies were reserved for those who completed high school. I'm not sure when this rite of passage began to filter down to the lower levels, but it's been going on for years now. In fact, you don't even have to be human to earn a diploma any more. How can I forget our dog Tucker proudly accepting his from puppy kindergarten?

There are those who prefer the old way, when the only ones marching to Pomp and Circumstance had just completed 12th grade. They argue that pre-high school graduations diminish the significance of the real thing that by the time kids reach the end of senior year, they're burned out on graduation ceremonies. I don't agree. When my son and his classmates accept their diplomas nine years from now, I doubt they'll be stifling yawns and fighting off bouts of deja  vu. They'll be reveling in their achievement. Though if their minds do happen to drift back to 3rd grade graduation, I bet they'll be thinking about the ice cream truck.
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