Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Gala

Ok, I have steadfastly refused all of the baubles that society throws at you for attaining a certain age. AARP has probably sent me a couple dozen congratulatory letters since I turned 55 years old, extolling the virtues of their parasitic lobbying organization. I have thrown all of them directly in the trash, all of them unopened. I have accepted no senior discounts for anything. I have never hit from the senior tees. No bluebird specials have been indulged. However...with the passage of enough years comes the roll of lovable curmudgeon, and I can assure you all...I am up for that challenge. In light of this truth, a few observations about the events of the past 24 hours...

Last night's Teacher of the Year Gala, held at the Columbia Convention Center, was fully funded by BMW, a big South Carolina employer who has chosen to engage the public by generously supporting K-12 education. The winner receives the use of a beautiful new car, which was displayed ostentatiously in the hall. There was an open bar, the attire was formal. Despite what was billed as a celebration of the 81 finest teachers(out of over 50,000)of 2017 throughout the State, I've seen more celebratory proceedings at a county board of supervisors meeting. Actually, that's a lie, since wild horses couldn't drag me to a board of supervisors meeting, so I have no first hand knowledge of what their meetings are like. But I have a working imagination and something tells me I'm not far off.

I loved meeting Kaitlin's principal. Seriously cool guy. The other people at our table were nice. But, once the proceedings began, it was like watching paint dry while wearing sandpaper underwear. I made three trips to the bathroom to prevent boredom-induced spontaneous combustion. There was a local news anchor personality with a sing song voice doing the MC honors. She did the very best she could with a program which seemed put together by the same committee that gave us C-SPAN. There was a very old heiress type who made a presentation. There was an interview conducted between some suit and last year's Teacher of the Year along with this year's Supervisior of the Year. This was done while we were finally allowed to eat, so the acoustics were horrible. Of course the Supervisor of the Year helped out by pointing his hand held mic at the back wall while speaking.

Then the featured speaker took the stage, and impressive man who held both a PhD in Medicine from Harvard Medical school as well as a Doctorate from MIT. Oh, and he was an astronaut. I assume that the point of his presentation was to highlight the fact that this amazingly accomplished man was a product of South Carolina public schools. Instead, there were pictures of weightless men and women floating around the inside of the Space Shuttle, and a slide that showed us just how tiny Earth is compared to the rest of the Universe....which was all great, but the dude didn't seem even slightly interested in the subject at hand, i.e.. the education of South Carolinian students by the capable people filling his audience.

Maybe I'm asking too much. But, if I had been in charge of planning this gala, there would have been loud music, at least one high school dance troop, couple of clowns, a paid comic, several blooper reels from past galas and somebody, anybody capable of inspiration.

...which I suppose is exactly why I'm never in charge of this sort of thing.