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Some circumstances of traditional pomp

It had been 12 years since I had been to a high school graduation, and before I could say Pomp and Circumstance, here I was covering two of them, pen and pad in hand. In some ways I felt I could write the story and just fill in the blanks with new names because it happens every year this time and will again next year. Is, was and ever shall be, thank goodness.

The sameness felt good, comfortable.

The specialness felt wonderful.

This is the most important event in these young lives so far, other than birth, and they don't remember much about that. Look at those faces, those beautiful, lit-up faces. The makeup is just right on the girls, with bobby pins you thought had gone the way of high-button shoes, anchoring their mortarboards to their heads. The boys are scrubbed, not a long head of hair to be found, and because these were air-conditioned ceremonies, nearly all wore neckties.

Statistics: Of 375 graduates at the first ceremony, 375 thought they were going to trip while walking across the stage (none did); 375 were going to or had just been to a party; 375 fiddled with their mortarboards; 375 got their pictures taken (enough camera equipment was on hand to cover the announcement of a major war at a White House news conference); and 375 likely felt a big letdown on Friday.

Nice Touch: At both ceremonies, faculty members in black robes, mortarboards and bright satin hoods, processed up to the stage, a tribute to knowledge, which, after all, is what this is all about. Afterward, they led the procession out, then divided into two lines to allow the exiting graduates between them, applauding and receiving hugs all the way.

Advice: If you're going to a high school graduation, know that it's still okay to cry, and it's still okay to yell to your graduate, cheer for your graduate and hug your graduate. In fact, hugs are pretty much "in" right now. And there still is lots of talk about thresholds, goals, success and futures.

Summer is a splendid time to catch up with our grand selection of community theaters here.

The oldest of these, in fact the oldest continuously running community theater in the state, is St. Petersburg Little Theater, where you can hear the music of George M. Cohan in 45 Minutes From Broadway beginning June 28.

"I suggested this particular show because of the patriotic nature of it," director Jan Hunter said. She loves the large cast full of young people and also works with youths in teaching acting and tap classes and "how to audition for a musical."

Mrs. Hunter, who grew up here as Janet Ruth Crockett, is a former Miss Florida and runner-up for Miss America, which brought her a scholarship. She went to New York, sang with Benny Goodman for a summer, did commercials as the "Sealtest Sweetie" on CBS-TV's Big Top circus show. She had her own ABC weather show, where she played the ukulele, did skits with Jackie Gleason for five years on CBS.

"I did a million, jillion commercials," she said. "You name it, I advertised it."

Mrs. Hunter returned here in 1976, working with the Little Theater in 1979.

New kid on the block is Kestrel Theatre, which just this year moved from Boatyard Village to Eckerd College's Bininger Theatre. In its final run there is The Little Foxes, which ends June 15.

Greater Tuna will be in production June 27 through Aug. 10, directed by Michael Updegraff, stars Shawn Heeney and Keven Renken.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Prices are $10, $9 for seniors, with group discounts available.

The local theater about which you hear the most is American Stage, which has just completed its annual Shakespearean production at Demens Landing. Playing here through June 30 is Boy Meets Girl, directed by Victoria Holloway and John Berglund. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday, Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. June 15 and 22. Prices are $16 for matinees, $18 Wednesdays and Thursday, $20 Friday and Saturdays.

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