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EDUCATION REPORT - Graduation Speakers - 2004-06-02

Broadcast: June 3, 2004

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

May and June are the months when most American high schools and colleges hold their graduation ceremonies. Elementary and middle schools also hold ceremonies for children finishing those levels of education.

And much older people may be completing their education, too. Men and women in their seventies and eighties receive high school diplomas or college degrees. Last year, in California, a high school in San Francisco awarded an honorary diploma to a woman ninety-seven years old.

Traditionally at graduation ceremonies, the students wear dark colored caps and gowns over their clothing. Most graduations include speakers. Schools often invite famous guests or former students who became highly successful. Or both.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the Supreme Court spoke at Stanford University in California. That was where she went to college.

Universities often want speakers who can comment on world events. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at Florida State University last month. President Bush spoke at three graduations this year. He spoke at Concordia University in Wisconsin and Louisiana State University. He also spoke at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Well-known reporters often speak at graduations. For example, Ted Koppel spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, last month. He has a nightly news program on national television.

Entertainers are also popular choices for graduation speakers. One very busy speaker this year is the actor and comedian Bill Cosby. He spoke at the Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts and at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. He also spoke at Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bill Cosby has spoken at Temple University many times. That is where he went to college.

Bono was also in Philadelphia. The singer from the Irish rock band U2 spoke last month at graduation ceremonies at the University of Pennsylvania. University officials praised Bono for using his popularity to help developing nations and fight against AIDS. He also received an honorary doctorate degree.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.