By Robert Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
Many came. Many left happy, too many left upset.
Pomp and Circumstance, just as promised. This was Lewiston High School’s graduation ceremony held last Friday at the Colisée.
The LHS staff, responsible for organizing and putting on the event, are to be congratulated: their efforts paid off in a ceremony second to none anywhere in this vast state. The many uncompensated hours by staff members shows their devotion to both LHS and Lewiston.
On the stage, members of the Lewiston School Committee and the high school’s administration awaited the honor of passing out diplomas, certifying the success achieved over the past four years through desire, hard work and sacrifice. On each side of the assembled seniors sat teachers beaming, watching the fruits of their labors file into the arena. Proud parents watched as the accomplishments of their sons and daughters reached fruition.
Watching the young men and women walking to receive their diplomas was very moving. Many I remembered from the middle school, and now they were graduating. Many of the graduates displayed their academic achievements through the ornamentation displayed on their gowns: light-blue sashes representing membership in the prestigious National Honor Society; white-and-purple stoles indicating membership in the National Technical Society; and a multitude of cords, medallions, sashes and stoles, each one indicating success in a particular area.
During the program, graduates, staff and teachers spoke to the assembled audience and the graduates. They spoke of the future, noting success is achieved through hard work, desire and a can-do spirit. Sentimentality took front stage when the graduates were reminded they will always remember their friends, teachers and the good times while at Lewiston High School.
Now to the point. I have briefly tried to create a picture of the hard work needed to put this graduation together, including the hours of work by the Lewiston High School staff and teachers, sacrifices made by parents and four years of academic work by the graduates. Unfortunately for many in attendance, especially those sitting in the far end of the arena, farthest from the stage, the juvenile behavior of many around them denied them much of the audio portion of the ceremony.
A once-in-a-lifetime moment in their lives was taken from them by the rude behavior of teenagers, immigrants and unproductive parents who had little or no appreciation of the importance of this night in their child’s life. Throughout the arena, you could see kids texting and talking on their cell phones after being asked to turn them off.
To the rear of the arena, there were many immigrants speaking on their cell phones in voices so loud that those trying to hear the ceremony were denied that right. Many were asked to quiet down, but the request was ignored.
I find the behavior by these immigrants puzzling. Most appreciate the education they are being given, especially females, many of whom have been denied this right in their native land.
Many of the immigrant children I worked with at Lewiston Middle School worked hard and were motivated when it came to getting an education. This was the path to success and freedom. On graduation day, they stand out. Most immigrants are dressed to the nines; they were contrasted by a portion of their counterparts, who looked like they just got off work at the mill.
Lastly, Lewiston residents have opened our city to refugees from oppressive refugee camps, which harbor crime, disease and hunger. We have provided them safety where they can thrive. The majority of our refugees appreciate the opportunity they have been given. They love this country.
Yet, there are still a number that take advantage of our generosity and act like we owe them. Well, news flash, we don’t!
During the singing of our National Anthem, these ingrates chose to sit talking to each other or talking on the phone. They need to be reminded that when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played, they are expected to show it the same respect and courtesy that U.S. citizens show it.
They are guests here, and they are expected to adapt to our culture. If this is too much to ask, then perhaps it’s time to leave.