Voice: Those dummy diplomas

June 12, 2002

As I turn myself around, 180 degrees, to my graduation night, I look back, back, way back to June 6, 1971, when long hair was in, ‘Nam was out.

The hottest phrase was, "Cool man," no matter what the temperature outside said. Oval- shaped eyeglasses, tinted with every color of the rainbow, was the look. A V.W. van spattered with those colors or more was the thing to drive around town, while listening to those hits jamming off your 8-track tape.

It was so groovy.

As I look back, I see an anxious young man waiting impatiently in the auditorium of Central Union High School trying his darnedest to differentiate which hand he was told to shake with from the one he would receive that empty diploma.

Yes, they were dummies; only the covers, in the event that Murphy's Law would slip in along the line.

That evening, (excuse me, dude, for not having a recollection on who you were, man), the orator told us he was going to shoot a few statistics our way.


Not having a clue what the word static meant I had to resort to the brain of my neighbor Diana Padilla. She was sitting on my right? Or was it my left? "This is my right and that is my left." GOT IT!

She was sitting on my right-hand side. Gene Paleo, drummer boy, was to her left-hand side. Diana noticed that stale, inquisitive look on my face and said, "Primo, if you must know this late in the game, the word is sta-tis-tiks. Not static or stash, and it's a fancy word for gathering data.

"I heard that," I almost shouted. She whispered, "It was meant for you to ‘hear.' "

I was only minutes away from walking down that aisle and running away with that piece of paper in my hands. WHERE? I didn't know. That night the word statistics and where I would run to had a common denominator. Both were an enigma to moi.

How many of those graduation class of 2002 will be there on that special night and were never there during the day?

How many of those cover/dummies will in actuality be empty because administration thought it best to cover their own skin?

That night it dawned on me, that I had only been a "guess" throughout my entire school years. I didn't feel worthy to receive that diploma. Let me cram this.

I was scared still when a rumor circulated around campus that, "In order for a student to receive a high school diploma he must pass an efficiency test." Not a proficiency test.

No way, Jose, I wasn't going to pass. How did I get by? Shake "Speer" said it most eloquently, "The world is a theater and we are its players."

EXIT stage left or right?


El Centro

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles