Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Graduation thoughts

My little one and I cut our vacation short to be present at Anna's graduation last Saturday, June 18th. Since she was doing her Running Start program through Seattle Central CC, this occasion was, of course, the graduation ceremony for the entire school. It is easy to underestimate the importance of community colleges, as big mainstream universities get most of the attention. Yet the average student in this two-year college works harder as they all are there to learn, not to party. Most have jobs on the side. The ethnical mix is very different from your typical university as the percentage of minority students and faculty members is quite high. I don't think one could find a more diverse group of people. This all means one leaves the school far more prepared for real life than graduates of most elitist colleges. Many students do well: I know at least one top rated conductor who went through a community college.

This occasion took place in a downtown concert hall, a place I used to work at. We sat in the front row of the Founder's tier and couldn't get over the fact that a crying baby's voice from some distance was far more present than the amplified speeches from the podium. Cheering family members and friends caused the noise level to hurt one's ears. Even the graduates themselves sitting on the main floor had trouble hearing what was said on the stage, as the other sounds from the audience were so overpowering. This all made me more convinced than ever that the hall works in reverse. The concert I was at the next day at UW's Meany Hall didn't exhibit any such weird acoustical phenomena, and one could enjoy listening in peace.

During the short elevator ride I noticed an ad in which some group claims that they have a virtuoso sitting in every chair. An interesting word that virtuoso is: originally it means virtuous. Hmmm. In 'Godfather', Michael Corleone falls in love with Apollonia, whose father in Sicily describes his 16-year-old as 'virtuosa', a woman of virtue. One meaning my dictionary shows is 'a connoisseur or dilettante'. Well, words are cheap these days and anyone can claim anything: 'mission accomplished'.