The Dryden Observer

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To the graduates of 2012…

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 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.

5 thoughts on “To the graduates of 2012…

  1. I can’t believe how disappointed I am in the Dryden Observer. Find news. Support our Community. Support those who live in it. Support those who live an active and positive lifestyle. Support those who will lead our community tomorrow.

    Grade 8’s ? you rock!
    You’ve decided to get off the sofa and become active. You are trying new things and challenging yourself. The Editor has decided he should edit your life choices. Is that appropriate? I think not.

    Pounding salt is a pass time of those with nothing better to do than belittle our future. Should the 40-50 year olds at the forks in WPG do the same? I think not.

    If a grade 8 has decided to take up something new and put down the Coke and a bag of Doritos with 1650 combined calories… so be it. Horror of Horrors.

    Support our youth and support our future. Or get out of the way and just accept hat it will happen.

  2. Next time you say that longboards aren’t for tricks, do a little research. We aren’t doing it to show you or really anybody. Were doing because we want to have fun, be active and get better. We arent doing ollies or kick flips. We do tricks like Shuv-its and Tiger Claws. Honestly, we don’t care if you think we look ridiculous. If we like longboards, who are you to tell us not to use them?

  3. You have know right to judge what the next generation is doing. Clearly you have not heard of Freeriding, You are thinking of the pintail board. Freeriding is a new version of the existing longboarding, just look at the shape of the board, it basically is a skateboard. But also this isn’t only the Grade 8’s. There are people like me, in Grade 11, people that just graduated from Grade 12, tonnes that do this sport, its a new vision of an old sport, slowly growing. I have seen kids use them in the skatepark. They are not a problem, they could be doing worse things, at least once a month I hear of another kid buying a longboard. Its a growing sport that should be supported. At least kids are out getting exercise and not in playing video games all day.

  4. It is really such a travesty that the youth of today has decided to get up off the sofa and chosen to play outside again? Is it unacceptable that kids are improving their physical fitness, agility, hand eye coordination and their creativity by learning and combining tricks in to sequences that most adults couldnt even begin to comprehend much less master. Oh horror of horrors. Let the snap judgements, consternation and hand wringing begin.

    Is there an appropriate way to exercise? Should we all share the exact same goals with the actvities we choose for a pass time? Do we need to achieve instant mastery of a new pass time before we take it up and practice it in public?

    As someone who has introduced and coached some of Dryden’s youth to become more active, I think its fairly safe to say that the easiest way to tear down our youth, and this community’s future is to ridicule them. Please dont.

    Age and stage. Kids need a variety of ways to stay physically active as they grow. Some will choose organized sport. Others will choose individual ways to express themselves. Those choices are personal and don’t need the approval of others to be valid.

    Lets not let a slow news week become justifcation for ridiculing our kids off their long boards, back in side and glued to the internet with nothing but the 1650 calories in a coke and a bag of Doritos to keep them company.

    1. Hey, Mike, I don’t begrudge kids getting off the couch.
      I suppose I just believe that every generation should advance the sport past the work done by its predecessors. How would you feel, Mike, if they replaced the 100 metre dash with an event done on pogo sticks? That’s the scenario I’m talking about. A regression in the sport. A giant step backward, an evolutionary wrong turn that will end the same way ballet skiing did. A laughable novelty.
      I don’t see kids pushing the limits of the sport. I see them taking it to a dead end. I make these comments because I care, because spent my entire youth on skateboards. I respect it as one of the hardest, most technical sports that exist.
      But this…this is just lame. Sorry.

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