Graduation Ceremony

Prepping for the Ceremony / What to Expect

The high school graduation ceremony, or “commencement” officially recognizes students’ achievements. There will likely be people chosen to speak - typically alumni, students and community dignitaries. Diplomas are, of course, handed out to graduating seniors. A speech is usually given by the highest-ranking academic student in the graduating class, or the “valedictorian”.

Who do you invite? Well, the first thing you want to do is determine how many people you can invite as many schools limit attendance for space reasons. Many students are faced with extremely difficult decisions regarding who to invite. Here are a few things to consider that may help:

Be honest. Discuss the situation openly and explain that each graduate is allowed only a certain number of guests. Most people will understand the difficult position that you are in. Who wouldn’t? If the going gets really tough, try searching for creative solutions that will feel fair to your entire family. You could draw names, or perhaps invite a certain number from each side of your family. Think about who the most important people are to YOU and make decisions accordingly. After all, this is your day. But be sure that everyone who is not able to attend is invited to your graduation party (if you are having one).

The Graduation Ceremony and Appropriate Etiquette

Every university and graduation ceremony is very different. In trying to determine what is appropriate and what isn’t, consider the following: What are your particular school’s traditions? Is graduation is formal affair? If so, it's better to keep your celebration more conservative. If things have gotten crazy in previous years then maybe it’s OK to be more creative.

When the time comes to actually walk up and get your diploma, pay attention! It is typically an orderly process and you want to be ready when it’s your turn. Here is some advice that many will ignore: Leave your cell phone in your pocket and off. You only graduate once – isn’t that more important than texting with friends? Fight the urge to text and savor the moment.

Common courtesy dictates that you remain seated until the very last students receive their diplomas so that everybody feels they received the same treatment.

The Graduation Cap and Gown

The traditional graduation cap and gown dates back to the early universities in Europe – centuries ago. Here are tips how to wear them:

The cap should be parallel to the floor, and flat on your head. Center the front point of the cap on your forehead.

During the school song and National Anthem, men should remove their graduation caps.

The graduation gown should hang mid-way between the knee and ankle.

Tassels should fall on the right side, but shift it to the left side when you receive you diploma.

Dark trousers, dress shirts and ties under their graduation gowns are appropriate for males.

Lightweight dresses or blouses and skirts that do not hang below their graduation gowns are best for women. A detachable white collar adds a decorative touch.

The gown should not be adorned with flowers or jewelry.

Accessorizing your cap and gown with regalia like stoles and honor cords is OK as long as it keeps with the traditions of your school.