Graduating in Style

Looking for a special gift for that special high school graduate? How about a $3,800 billboard?

Back in ancient times, (I’m talking the 1960s), graduating high school seniors like me could expect the following from their parents:

  1. a packet of graduation photos
  2. a rented tuxedo for the boys, a new dress for the girls
  3. for prom night, a borrowed car and spending money for the boys, cab fare and warnings for the girls
  4. a pat on the back

For today’s high school grads, those are merely the starting point.  Open houses — some in rented halls or hotel suites — are standard, as are limousine rides, and financial gifts totaling hundreds of dollars.

And then there is Kayla Hawkins. She got her own billboard.

The 10′-6 x 36′ sign is located on the John Lodge Freeway service drive in Detroit, between McNichols and 7 Mile Road.

Kayla is a 2013 graduate of Detroit Country Day School (DCDS). A spokesman for CBS Outdoor, which owns the billboard, said such recognition for teenagers “is pretty rare.”  How rare? Apparently, it only happens in the Hawkins family.  According to a news report, Kayla’s older sister, Lauren, also received a billboard when she graduated from high school two years ago.

The price? The family isn’t commenting, but such billboards typically run between $3,800 and $4,000 for a month-long run.

That may seem like a lot of  money to say “job well done,” but it’s all relative. The average Midwest family spends $722 on a high school graduation. Tuition at DCDS is $27,700 annually.  Four grand for a really big greeting card might actually be a bargain.

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James E. Kenyon

James is the publisher and editor of Page One Post. He was a newspaper reporter in Detroit and Norfolk, VA, before working in the corporate communications departments at a number of Michigan companies. His last stint was 18 years at Chrysler Corporation, where he handled media relations, product and marketing PR and speech writing. He retired from Chrysler in 2007. He enjoys listening to jazz, good cigars and bourbon Manhattans, often at the same time. He and his partner, Melba, live in Detroit's Rosedale Park neighborhood.