This past weekend was 3M's commencement ceremony, from his 'Salvage Your Graduation' program. The graduates were a mixed bag of younger kids like 3M, and the GED folks, who were generally older.
Five of the graduates gave speeches. One was a 43-year-old grandmother who just decided it was time to get her life headed in a better direction. Another was a guy with a wife and two kids who got hurt and couldn't do his job anymore. If he was going to feed his kids, he needed to get a diploma. This was LIFE, at a very down-and-dirty level. Not the usual, "The future lies open before us" platitudes coming from kids who haven't lived at all yet. It was very touching.
Even most of the 'salvage' kids seemed to understand that they were in 'repair mode' for previous mistakes, and there was a much more sober, grateful atmosphere to the whole ceremony.
I hope I don't have to go to another one, but all in all, it was probably the most REAL commencement ceremony I've ever been to.