Ballou Senior High‘s graduation ceremony for the Class of ’08 was held last night on the football field. It was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. The start time got delayed by an hour. This meant a roughly three hour endurance test for mothers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. who had to sit on the metal bleachers and bake in the still-way-too-hot sun.

One relative of a graduate left before the ceremony started, hollering to a friend: “I’m the only motherfucker in a uniform” as she walked across the parking lot to the exits. I felt sorry for her. She was in black pants and a white shirt. She looked angry hot.

Another woman—who looked like someone’s awesome grandmother—wrapped head and neck in a towel and complained that she would definitely need a shower after the commencement was over. She said she had already taken four showers that day.

The lucky and the smart brought umbrellas and water. I did see a man cart a bunch of water bottles but where those bottles ended up I’m not sure. If there were free waters, they didn’t reach the top rows of the bleachers.

The only readily available water came from two men selling bottles out of a cooler in the parking lot. A dollar got you a bottle. The man with the wad of bills explained that he is a father just not a father of a Ballou student. He says he would be donating the cash to Ballou’s athletic department. But quickly told me he didn’t want to be interviewed and exploit his great deed for publicity.

For those that didn’t faint, didn’t visit the nurse stationed nearby, didn’t beg the cops to let them in their air-conditioned cruiser parked in the lot, they got to see a pretty moving graduation. The best speech by far: Principal Karen D. Smith‘s hilarious send off. It was very clear that she knew these students well and that it was only in good humor that she expressed relief that they would be leaving Ballou.

And there was Barry. Maybe it was the sun that did him in. He did have to sit a good long while before he got his turn at the podium. He awarded the valedictorian a check for $1500. For the runner-up, he told the crowd, he had a check for “$750,000.” The crowd woke up for that. Barry didn’t bother correcting himself.

On a side note, Councilmember Barry: Please never again refer to your prize money as “Benjamins.”

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