Graduation time: We’re willing to be that your inbox was recently flooded with photos and your postal mailbox full of paper announcements. It is the season for every type of educational institution to celebrate the end of the year!
Many private preschools hold ceremonies to celebrate the moving of little 4- and 5-year-olds from sweet Preschool to official school: Kindergarten! The event is complete with the procession of little graduates in mini-sized caps and cherub-swallowing gowns! Students receive their “diplomas” and sometimes receive superlative awards of “Most Creative Use of Fingerpaint” or “Best Line Leader.” Too bad most graduates won’t remember the event. The fun hoopla is for the parents and grandparents—who fill their phones with photos/videos, dab their eyes with hankies, and gather more paper memorabilia for the collection. The little scholars are so cute with their caps askew on their heads and their inability to sit still during the address!
Move forward a dozen years, and scholars still struggle with their ceremony garb. High school graduation is a much milestone awaited date for teenagers everywhere. It symbolizes “becoming an adult,” as well as the transition from primary education to continuing education at a university, enlisting into military service, or finding employment in the “real world.” I remember this exciting time of wondering what the future held (and plotting how I would spend the monetary gifts I received).
Like many congregations this time of year, our church recognizes graduates in the church family by having graduates proceed down the aisle. They then are joined by parents or friends to pray for them and their futures. What a glorious scene of the many gown colors flowing down the aisles—like flags flying in celebration! Members of the congregation realize how time flies when they see the little boy they taught in 2nd-grade Sunday School now planning to attend medical school.
College graduation tends to be a much more serious endeavor. It signifies an end to the many years of pulling all-nighters to cram for tests or write research papers. Preparing to walk to receive the diploma is more complicated, with many universities splitting ceremonies into groups of same areas of study. Some institutions hold back-to-back ceremonies over several days. It is a very big deal! I just remember being excited to enter the real world—after I drove home my car filled to the ceiling of dorm-room belongings.
Need ideas for dealing with the flood graduations?
- If you’ve been invited to attend a ceremony (no matter the age of the graduate), treat it in the highest esteem. Seating in most ceremonies is limited, so remember that much thought was afforded to include you.
- Treat the ceremony as a solemn event. Sometimes the crowd may include folks who scream when their graduate’s name is announced. Please, refrain from this behavior.
- Include your children in attending ceremonies. My sister’s graduation was one of the first events our son attended (he was about 6 weeks old). Consider the venue—whether it is a formal or informal setting. Then consider the (im)maturity of the child. Situate yourself so you can remove a restless child before he or she creates a scene.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The distance you walk may be unknown. Don’t join the wildly large group of women who dress to the nines for the event and then struggle to walk in new shoes. Consider whether your seat is on a church pew or in a football stadium bleacher—and dress appropriately.
- Grant the graduate sweet wishes for the future, and bestow a nice gift. If you really know the child, buy something you know they will enjoy. Otherwise, a cash or a gift card is the best choice.
- Send the parents a card a few days later to congratulate them on this significant milestone!