Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Story Behind the Palm Tree (aka: I Hold a Grudge)

That's my cap for my Masters graduation. "Why a palm tree?" you might ask. You will especially ask this if you heard the story of how much I am not a cruise or beach person, so since you asked (whether you did or not) I will tell the tale.

It all started about thirteen years ago in a little town called Ardmore. It was the day of my high school graduation and my friend Ashley had decorated her cap for graduation that evening. Hers was pretty and sparkly and said "gimp" as she was hobbling around following an injury during the senior powder puff football game. When I heard about this I thought "I need to decorate my cap too!" and after a quick thought I came to the idea of a palm tree. You see my high school show choir had just gotten back from a cruise on The Big Red Boat and our prom theme had even been "Bon Voyage" with a cruise ship in the background of our formal pictures. It seemed natural. So I grabbed some paper and markers and drew a palm tree, cut it out and taped it to my cap.

Then the drama unfolded.

I must say that I didn't feel too much of a closeness to my high school class through our four years at AHS, but that all changed the night of graduation. We bonded. We bonded over the ridiculous rules of our administration. Now I have to admit that I already had some "issues" with our current principal (who had taken over the position the second semester of my senior year), but we'll just leave it there.

We all walked in, Ashley and I were the only decorated caps. Our lovely former principal, who was now an assistant, pulls me into the office of the field house and explains that if I don't remove the palm tree from my cap I will not be allowed to walk.


This is MY high school graduation, not his, or the other principal's. They wanted to keep this ceremony very serious, I suppose. I guess it was supposed to reflect the maturity of the school and whatnot. Well, funny story, we might not have been a class that got along, but by gosh we came together that night to make our high school graduation memorable and very unique to us.

After he tells me to remove the palm tree (and wouldn't let me take it with me), in one of my more rebellious moments in high school, I slammed it on the desk, said "this is the biggest bunch of bullshit I've heard", and stormed out. Now I am not advocating that every high school senior does this, but I'm also hoping that the administration of your school respects you more than ours did and allows you to be individuals and take ownership of a ceremony that is meant to celebrate you.

After that I was furious, just as I had been many other times in the past. Luckily we had two pretty amazing teachers that calmed us all down. Ashley had to walk without a cap at all (since hers was done with glitter and paint), but Alex was the smartest of us all! He had a paint pen or a white out pen and as we were walking used it to write "#3" his class rank (he thought, along with most of the rest of us, that he would be valedictorian). Ah, we were a smart class and in the end we won.

Through the ceremony we also had four beach balls that were blown up and bounced around, one friend who got up in the middle of a forty five minute speaker's speech and started applauding, and a silly friend that danced across the stage and left the president of the school board with a perplexed look on his face. Overall it was probably my favorite memory of high school, so for that I'm glad. I'm glad that were able to come together against a common enemy. You might be reading this thinking that I'm crazy or at least disrespectful to authority, however I believe that in order to get respect you must first give it and the administration had little respect towards us through our four years at that school.

Now all of this being said, last year I was at Haley's convocation and saw all the caps that were decorated. That was when I got the idea to recreate the palm tree, only better! I spent ten months planning. The Friday before Graduation Gear Up I went and got the jewels. The first day of GGU I bought my cap and gown, pulled the cap from the plastic, found a palm tree in clip art, made it the right size and started laying out the beautiful jeweled palm tree above. I am quite proud of it, even though the cruise that I went on before graduation this year was kind of a bust, it was perfect. A lot of people figured I would have the New York City skyline or something of that nature, but what can I say? I hold a grudge.


  1. I felt the same way that night (and really, for the entire second semester of our Senior year). While I had not tried to decorate my cap, I thought it was very silly to not allow that kind of harmless individualism on our last night of being together as a class. Incidentally, I was sitting next to the principal who pulled out his pocket knife and stabbed one of the poor beach balls to death. I had been under the impression that knives were not allowed given that this was just weeks after Columbine, but I guess I was wrong.

    1. totally different if it is the principal...they were more specialer than us ;)