The senior quote. You only get one chance to encapsulate your high school career in a few words. Do you go with something profound? Or funny? Do you make the Oscar speech you’ll never otherwise get to make? Do you quote a famous movie character or historical figure? Do you go with something clever and awesome, or do you just express your desire to party?
The biggest problem with the senior quote is that it’s forever. If you say something dumb, it’s right there in the yearbook for the school to remember forever. (For some reason, the yearbook staff inadvertently left mine out. I had gone all literary with a quote from Laurel Lee’s Godspeed*.)
Then there’s Paris Gray. The senior at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, went with a little “nerd humor” for her quote, which wound up getting her in trouble.
Her quote? “When the going gets tough, just remember to Barium Carbon Potassium Thorium Astatine Arsenic Sulfur Uranium Phosphorus.” For those of you who aren’t up on your periodic table, the symbol for those elements translate to:
Gray insists it has been a misunderstanding and that she has given it a new meaning with more encouragement and less dropping it like it’s hot.
“Basically, it was me just saying start all over again,” she told Atlanta’s WSB-TV. “You have to go back and start all over.”
Once her message was decoded, she was given in-school suspension and prohibited from attending her school’s senior walk. When she was threatened with not being able to attend the graduation ceremony, that took things too far.
What did her mom think? “My first reaction was, ‘You are such a nerd,'” said Zarinah Woods.
Paris Gray is a good student. She participated in Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), the National Beta Club, and was Vice President of her senior class. Missing out on graduation would be more than just missing out on walking across the stage to receive her diploma, Gray was also slated to give the inspirational speech during the ceremony.
Gray and her mother sat down with the principal and the superintendent of the district today where it was decided that she would be allowed to participate in the ceremony and will give her commencement address.
What do you think? Did the school go to far in punishing Gray for a harmless senior prank? Should she have chosen something else? Will she regret her quote 20 years from now?
*If you’re still reading, my senior quote was supposed to be, “I think of us…as being like leaves. We must be autumn’s generation, full of color and blowing in gusts of wind to every direction.”
** Images via WSB-TV and iflscience.com.