Every year celebs take center stage at commencement ceremonies. Here are the marks on their remarks to the class of '02.

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated June 21, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Goldie Hawn at American University, Washington, D.C. Pearls of Wisdom ”As I’ve said to my own children, now is the time for you to go to the college of you.” Report Card Too much motherly goodwill, not enough ditzy-blonde blather at her almost alma mater (she never graduated). C’mon, Goldie, sock it to us. C+

Sidney Poitier at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, Calif. Pearls of Wisdom ”Life knows who we are…but she rarely comes looking for those of us who are, at the heart of ourselves, spectators.” Report Card Yeah, the trailblazer doles out standard-issue carpe diem advice. But inspiring just the same. B

James Earl Jones at Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y. Pearls of Wisdom ”Only very young children and very wise adults know…that all of our dreams and all of our fairy tales are real.” Report Card The erstwhile Darth Vader could make a limerick sound moving. He clones, er, drones in places, but finishes with a crowd-pleasing ”Let the Force be with you.” B

Harry Belafonte at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, N.J. Pearls of Wisdom ”You can be selfish and amass fortunes, staying quiet into your own pleasures, or you can find the greater reward of exposing yourself to the needs of your fellow human beings.” Report Card The ill-at-ease crooner admits that making speeches isn’t his thing. Still, he woos grads with an a cappella ”Banana Boat (Day-O).” Extra points for updating the lyrics: ”I got my degree and I want to go home.” B-

Alec Baldwin at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City Pearls of Wisdom ”One last thing that I’ve learned: Don’t wear horizontal stripes. Ever.” Report Card The actor keeps the fashionistas in stitches with sartorial humor. Just cut the out-of-leftfield part about what he’d like built at the World Trade Center site (a new Yankee stadium). A-

Kathy Bates at Southern Methodist University, Dallas Pearls of Wisdom ”In bringing all those characters to life…I’ve had the opportunity to duplicate life from inside many different skins—to empathize with various ways of approaching life.” Report Card A long-winded intro about her SMU days is misery, but the Oscar winner scores when she talks about learning compassion through acting. C