Latest posts by Chris Marchand (see all)
- For Pete’s Sake – 2018 Come Together Concert a tribute to late local musician - January 9, 2019
- DREAM project marks progress - April 25, 2018
- Northern Lights impressive - April 25, 2018
I know, it’s rather presumptuous of me to embark upon this graduation day address, having never been asked to do so, and being of questionable skill in the ‘sage wisdom’ department.
Nevertheless, I find myself, as in most years when school breaks, compelled to speak directly to the youth of this community. Not the high school grads, they have enough online video of commencement speeches telling them just how ‘not special’ and falsely entitled they are.
The hallmark of a great commencement speech these days is to gently but thoroughly shatter, in one swing of the axe, 18 years of carefully-nurtured self-esteem. To reveal, for the first time, the relatively low value society places upon the opinions of unskilled, inexperienced youth. To reveal to them that at the end of the great struggle that is high school, it is in fact only the beginning in their quest to be taken seriously.
Adults love to hit ‘Share’ on this kind of business. Not only is it a tasty slice of revenge for our balding pates and our sagging midsections, for which you are directly responsible, but also because it validates all that we’ve achieved since ‘life really began‘.
But this isn’t our day. This is your day. As cathartic as many would find it to cut you down to size, we should resist that impulse, act like adults, and say only this.
Have Fun. Don’t drink and drive.
However, this year’s Grade 8 graduating class isn’t getting off the hook so easy.
Where do I even begin in my critique of local youth culture?
Recent trends in skateboarding have led to the proliferation of the ‘longboard’ — three foot-long cruising planks with soft-wheels and fast bearings designed for covering distance with comfort and stability. A bit like a Cadillac or a stretch limo, longboards are a nod to the sport’s rich history that endures and makes skating more accessible.
I think it’s cool that this once-maligned part of skating culture is gaining wider acceptance among kids. The long board used to be what older skaters like me bought when we got tired of bleeding so much.
Now they are everywhere and the absurdity of watching some kid attempting rudimentary tricks like ollies and kickflips on a longboard can no longer go unrecognized.
It’s a little bit like watching someone try to play frisbee with a cow. They’re just not built to do those things…and you look ridiculous. Somebody needs to say something, so I am.
Like it or not, you kids are the guardians of a proud tradition, the torch-bearers of a subculture that has endured many attempts at annihilation by authority only to finally gain hard-fought mainstream acceptance. Go down to the Forks in Winnipeg at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and watch the 40 and 50 year-olds skate. These guys are living proof of skating’s power to endure. You wouldn’t make them watch you ollie on a longboard, would you?
The community, your government and the skaters who have come before you have invested too much in skateboarding to let you make a fool of yourself in front of the neighbourhood girls any longer.
Parents, if you see your kids trying to do tricks on a longboard, maybe it’s time to have a chat about using ‘the right tools for the right job’. Buy them another skateboard — one they can take down to the $200,000 skatepark that was built in North Dryden.
It could be worse, your son or daughter might be a scooter-kid.