(05/15/2007)
By Drew Moody

It may well have been the shortest cap and gown ceremony in recent years, perhaps shaving more then an hour off the more typical ceremony.

Family, friends, students and members of the college faculty and staff gathered in the Jesse R. Lilly, Jr. Gymnasium to celebrate this rite of passage.

Slightly over 200 students were eligible to take that long-awaited walk across the stage to receive their diploma from Glenville State College. Nearly half of those receiving degrees (91) live within a 40-mile radius of the school's campus. Twenty-eight graduated with high honors.

I.L. "Ike" Morris was presented with an honorary doctorate
Saturday morning for his years of public service and support
of Glenville State College and the community. Pictured from
the left are, Dr. Peter Barr, President Glenville State
College; Ike Morris, Tom McPherson, GSC Board of Governors;
and Ronald Blankenship, Chairman GSC Board of Governors

(Photos by Drew Moody)

I.L. "Ike" Morris got the biggest laugh of the day, by unabashedly stating the obvious after being presented with an honorary doctorate for his public service over the years.

Morris, whose plain-spoken observations and wit can, and often does, cut to the core of an issue said, "Now I know a lot of you people think I'm up here because I donated money..."

He paused with what can only be described as perfect timing, finishing the thought, "So be it."

The audience spontaneously and loudly cheered "Ike," a man who could be described as being 'larger than life.'

Several others received awards, including West Virginia Delegate Brent Boggs, who was honored with a presidential citation by Glenville State College President, Dr. Peter Barr.

West Virginia Cabinet Secretary James Westbrooke
Spears gave a thought-provoking keynote address
during Glenville State College's commencement exercises

The keynote address, given by West Virginia Cabinet Secretary James Westbrooke Spears, was like a dance on the edge of a razor-blade. For some audience members his words were disturbing.

Several commented they believed the speech could have been more upbeat. One couple, the proud parents of a Summa Cum Laude graduate, left the auditorium shortly after Spears began his address.

However, after carefully considering Spears formidable background and education, this writer has concluded his words were deliberate, much like a masterful editorial writer who eloquently elicits a reaction, while not necessarily taking a position - one way or the other.

Secretary Spears likely accomplished what few speakers can, and that is to prompt a discussion, or motivate the audience to critically evaluate a topic. He did not rise to the podium simply to be entertaining.

Perhaps Spears believes Americans have been complacent for too long. During his address he repeatedly ask, "Are we better off today than we were yesterday?"

He spoke of the crisis of the regional jail system in West Virginia, which is threatening to bankrupt many counties. Citing the explosion of the inmate population, Spears said, "In 13 years we've gone from 1,753 to 5,800 inmates."

Spears evoked the memory of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, telling the audience a significant focus of disaster planning in the 'Mountain State' involves considering the fallout of a future attack on Washington, D.C.

The greater Washington metro area is home to about 6 to 7-million people, Spears said. If there was a "radiological event" and only 10-percent of those people headed to West Virginia for their escape...that could mean being overrun by 700,000 people with nowhere to go.

Spears asked the audience if they believed West Virginia's 1.8-million people could handle an additional 700,000 souls?

A Call to Act With Awareness

Words are easy. In particular, in today's society, words often replace action. There are discussions about critical thinking, creativity and the like...but, just as often those talking about such topics recoil when face to face with creativity. People talk about values. But not too many people talk about the 'price to be paid for conviction.'

The underlying reality behind mere intellectual idealism is evidenced in the thought, "Attempting to do the 'right thing' is hardly ever convenient."

Secretary Spears transitioned from citing elements that effect all of us, one way or the other, to "The Paradoxical Commandments" written by Kent Keith in 1968.

Although these paradoxical commandments are not lengthy, Spears only shared half of them, as if inviting the audience to go search out the rest.

At the heart of the writing is a theme of suffering. An understanding that unless you're willing to simply "go along to get along" and never take a stand on anything...there's a price to pay.

Frequently, it appears, people seem to like flirting with the idea of conviction, but in practice it isn't so appealing.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Kent M. Keith

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest ideas. Think big anyway.

7. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

8. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway.

9. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

10. Give the world the best that you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

Copyright 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith. All Rights Reserved

Spears concluded his presentation by suggesting despite any number of less than ideal and unknown circumstances we may face, "We can't say there is no bright future."

"You are our bright future," Spears told the Glenville State College graduating class.

Watch for a separate article on additional awards that were presented.

Eric Young glued two empty cans of "Red Bull" high
energy drink to his mortarboard. He credited the drink
with helping him stay awake late into the night studying
for tests. Young graduated with a degree in Natural Resources
Management. He is the son of Bobby and Rita Young of Elkview, WV


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