Tioga grads hold court

June 13, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

Tioga High School's graduation became an outdoor court session as grads' "crimes" were listed, examined and absolved.

Seniors' comparisons of high school to prison became the theme of last night's ceremony.

With Judge Moody — a Judge Judy-like character played by Tioga High Principal Sandy Bradley — presiding, grads were told why they had been incarcerated for four years and why they were now absolved of their crimes.

Yasuhiro Fujinaga, a Japanese exchange student, was accused of "acute abuse of kitchen items and utensils by eating, eating and eating," Judge Moody said.

Although his host family would be happy to keep food on their shelves, she said, they would miss Fujinaga when he returns to Japan.

He was released from "prison," however, because of his cheerful disposition and his contribution of culture to the campus. With a tight, judicial frown, Judge Moody patiently waited while Fujinaga's "theme song," Weird Al's "Addicted to Spuds," played out.

Each of the 22 graduates were singled out, read the riot act and then released by virtue of a big heart, a happy smile or marked improvement over four years.

Some students were released because they showed talent and enthusiasm for "inmate drama productions" or "prisonwide field-trip organizing."

Music lover Daniel Borges was accused of "possession of an inordinate amount of irritating rap CDs," while foot-dragger Andrew Marshall was accused of "chronic procrastination, postponing, putting off, waiting."

"You would be a prime candidate for death row, because you wouldn't mind the wait," Judge Moody told Marshall, shaking her white-wigged head sadly.

Marshall received his pardon to the strains of "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie."

After all inmates had been lashed by the acid tongue of Judge Moody, they were given their walking papers in the form of diplomas and released with a flurry of doves winging their way into the fading light.

Contact Claire St. John at cstjohn @uniondemocrat.com.