CINCINNATI -- May 31st, 1987 was a seminal date on my splotchy academic resume. That was the night I delivered the commencement address at Elder High School’s graduation ceremony.
Gathered on a rooftop lounge at what is now the Duke Energy Center, I saw many old friends. Teachers and former classmates who comprised the faculty at the eminent Westside seat of education. Among them was English instructor John Ploehs— long one of the school’s most revered teachers. John was a member of our self-proclaimed Great 1968 graduating class. Ranked in the top five in academic standing, as I recall, when we strode the stage at Music Hall June 3, 1968. He is possessed of a wickedly dry sense of humor, which was sharp as I prepared to deliver the keynote.
“Denny, I can’t tell you how proud I am to think that a member of our class has been selected to speak tonight."
Then a perfect comic pause before concluding: “Though I didn’t think it would be you.'
The comments brought down the house of those gathered around us, who were privy to my less than stunning GPA.
John spoke the truth.
I was among the least likely to be selected the high honor of commencement speaker, not that I was under federal indictment mind you but rather because of my checkered learning arc. My lone educational claim to fame was perfect attendance for four years. And one lone demerit. I was a good kid, who always showed up. Not much else.
Back in 1968, State Rep.Norman Murdock addressed the 388 members of my graduating class. I don’t particularly recall any of his address but I knew and respected Mr. Murdock, whose small law office was on Glenway Avenue, where I’d once delivered the Price Hill News.
Insiders can read from what wisdom DJ drew on to write that speech, which still apply to class of 2014.
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