May 2, 2007 EditionAlso in this issue...
By Linda Lou Moore
ceremony: A family affair
Congratulations Class of 2007! Whether you are graduating from high school and entering adulthood or completing your college studies, graduation is an event to celebrate. Graduation is an exciting time and the graduation ceremony is a longstanding tradition. Webster's New World Dictionary defines the word ceremony as: "A set of formal acts proper to a special occasion."
The commencement ceremony is a milestone in both the graduate's life and in the life of the graduate's family. The purpose of the commencement ceremony is to confer diplomas or degrees to graduates. With so many casual events it's easy to forget the formality of this special occasion.
The school administration, faculty and students want family and friends to enjoy the ceremony. Respecting not only the graduates, but those in the audience, makes for an enjoyable and memorable event.
Do obtain any special graduation information from the school.
Do try to arrive early and find your seat.
Don't arrive late. It is disruptive and distracting to those around you.
Do stand for the processional, recessional, National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and the School Alma Mater.
Do applaud when it is appropriate.
Do turn off cell phones.
Don't forget that others are trying to listen. Screaming or cheering after the announcement of the name of the graduate interrupts the announcement of the next name.
Don't use noisemakers, air horns or other noise-making equipment. This interferes with the dignity of the ceremony. Even though field houses, gymnasiums and stadiums are used, the ceremony is not a sporting event.
Do take pictures from your seat.
Don't try to crawl over others or try to get on stage to take photographs. Most schools have a photographer on stage to take a picture of the graduate as he or she receives their diploma.
Don't block the view of others.
Do dress appropriately for this special occasion. Dress should show respect for the graduates and the ceremony.
Do remember that babies and very young children will not appreciate the long ceremony. It is easy for them to become restless, if possible, try to make arrangements for a baby-sitter. If a baby sitter is not an option then consider sitting in an area that is convenient for you to step out if your child begins to cry. The audience will appreciate your courtesy.
Do remain seated until the ceremony is over.
Don't leave after your graduate's name is announced. Since all graduates are being honored, wait until the ceremony concludes. Leaving early can be disruptive and is noticed by the audience and the graduates.
Do try to be aware of those who require handicapped seating.
Do take the program as a souvenir.
The purpose of the graduation ceremony is to honor the graduate. After years of school and long hours of study, the time has finally arrived. With all the excitement it may be easy to overlook some important steps concerning graduation.
- Select the clothes and shoes you will wear with your cap and gown according to the graduation dress code.
- Try on your cap and gown. Remove wrinkles according to instructions and hang the gown up until graduation.
- If seating is limited for the graduation ceremony, obtain the tickets you need for family and friends.
- Make travel and lodging arrangements for out-of-town guests.
- Agree on a place to meet your family and friends after the ceremony.
- Be sure to have your camera and film ready for pictures.
- Plan your graduation celebration! Reserve a location, if necessary. Write out a guest list. Arrange for food, decorations and music.
- Give out your appreciation gifts.
- Send thank you notes.
Wearing the cap and gown for graduation is a long standing tradition.
The wearing of the cap and gown dates back to the university scholars of the Fourteenth Century. The tradition of wearing caps and gowns at high school graduations did not gain widespread acceptance until the early 1900s.
Initially, the caps and gowns that were worn in high school ceremonies were gray and were made of wool or poplin. Today, gowns are lightweight, comfortable and are available in traditional and contemporary colors.
Remember the following guidelines for wearing caps and gowns:
- The gown should be removed from its individual package and placed on a hanger as soon as it is received.
- The gown should be approximately 10 inches from the floor and should be pressed before being worn.
- Flowers and pins are not appropriately worn on graduation gowns.
- Caps should be placed on the head so that the mortarboard is level. The front of the cap is indicated on the inside of the crown. Caps are never worn on the back of the head.
- Women find it more practical to wear a simply styled, lightweight dress without a high neckline or excess skirt fullness under their gown.
- Men do not need to wear a coat under their gown. A white shirt and tie are considered proper.
- Shoes are visible to the audience. Women should consider a moderately dressy shoe such as flats or pumps. Men should consider a loafer or dress shoe. Even though you may want to be comfortable, this is not the time for flip-flops or house shoes.
Quote of the week: "It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate, and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days." ~ Isabel Waxman
Linda Lou Moore of Paragould is trained and certified by The Protocol School of Washington, Washington, D.C. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at Post Office Box 145, Paragould, AR 72451 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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