Everyone has different ideas on what the ideal high school graduation would be like. The president of a local homeschool group wanted her daughter's graduation to be a several thousand dollar affair and that wasn't what we had in mind, so we decided to have our graduation in our own backyard. My boys, however, didn't have an idea of how to go about planning their ideal graduation, so I gave them this list of possible ideas to choose from. This list might also be helpful to you, if you are planning a homeschool high school graduation, to make your graduation one that is just perfect for you.
In the Beginning: A successful graduation requires a bit of prior planning, weeks in advance.
People: Who do you want to be presenters and speakers for your graduation? Who do you want to invite? Do you want to send invitations or do you want to call your guests? You will have to consider your space in relation to the amount of guests. Our graduates chose to invite only family to their graduation, but you might choose to invite many people important to you. It is the graduation you want that is important.
Things: Do you want to have a cap and gown or go casual? What colors will you choose for your school? My boys wanted blue cap and gown but chose red, white and blue for their tassels. This made an easy color scheme for us, since our graduation fell between Memorial Day and Independence Day.
The Ceremony: The core of the traditional graduation has ceremony that includes certain parts.
Opening Remarks: This is just a welcoming greeting to announce the start of the graduation. This can be done by an organizer of the event or someone else who is meaningful to the graduate(s), such as a beloved uncle or neighbor.
Processional: This is when the graduates come out and walk through an aisle and reach a seat waiting for them, often on a stage area. This is traditionally led by an important person in the school and has Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background.
Since we decided to have our graduation in our backyard, we played Pomp and Circumstance on our portable CD player. The boys decided that they didn't want anyone leading the procession, although I did follow up in the rear only because I wasn't sure about how my autistic graduate would respond to the ceremony and I wanted to be available to help prevent any problems with the ceremony for the others.
Commencement Speeches: A speech by someone significant to the graduates or their school. This is often a encouraging and uplifting address. For a homeschool graduation, this speech is often given by the parents. In larger graduations, the top students often give speeches celebrating students' accomplishments and hopes for the future. In small homeschool ceremonies, all the students can give speeches of thankfulness and filled with their most special memories. Some homeschool graduations also include slideshows of pictures of the student throughout their schooling, complete with a graduation song of their choice. My boys, being shy in nature, decided not to have any speeches. Since we decided to have our graduation outside, we did not have a slideshow, but had a science display board of photos that was displayed in the party area after the graduation.
Presentation of Diplomas: A school official, often the person who led the processional, presents the diplomas to the graduates. They read the diploma, and then calls the name of each student and the student then steps up and receives their diploma. The presenter shakes the graduates hand and congratulates them. For our graduation, since we had two mothers and three sons, we would have the opposite mother's present the diplomas. In this way, the mothers each were able to see their sons' get their diplomas and it seemed more official for the students. Others might want to give their own child their diplomas since they have worked together in order to obtain this diploma. We had our students stand up, the diploma, including the name was read to the student and then he was given his diploma. The graduates also decided to have their graduation songs softly playing in the background as they were presented their diplomas. (Sam picked, Faith of the Heart,
Eddie picked Proud to be an American
and we played Wonderful World for Alex.)
Moving of the Tassel: Now that the students are officially graduates, they symbolize this with moving the tassel from the right to the left side.
Benediction: This is a parting blessing that also symbolizes that the graduation is coming to a close. For our benediction, I decided to read a portion of the letter that was included in the diplomas sent to us by our umbrella group, Homelife Academy because I couldn't imagine anything more fitting.
"As you move into this new season of your life, we pray for God to make clear His direction for you. We believe every individual has a calling and purpose in God's Kingdom. If you are unsure of that direction right now, just keep praying...God will reveal it to you in His perfect timing. Remember God's purpose for your life is more about character than career (see Philippians 2:5). These two things summarize God's will for your life, that you:
Maintain a vital and growing relationship with Him, trusting Him in all things.
Let Christ live life through you, whatever career or role you find yourself.
The rest will fall naturally into place."
Recessional: Our new graduates now leave the graduation area just as they came in, diplomas in hand. You can play appropriate music during this as well.
The celebration of your students' graduation can be as formal or informal as you would like. It could be at a fancy restaurant or a casual affair at home.
We decided to have their favorite dinner, the opening of gifts and games outside afterwards.
It really doesn't matter what you choose to do as long as it celebrates this landmark occasion in the student's (and teachers') lives.