GRADUATION FRIDAY: ALTERNATIVE CEREMONIES

Part of the Virtual Culture and Climate Series – Spring 2020

Ideas contributed by the Jostens Renaissance educator community and shared in a Facebook Live presentation on April 24, 2020.

Alternative Ceremonies

The U.S. Air Force Academy sent its 2020 graduates into the ranks six weeks early this past Saturday, a move the military hasn’t made since World War II. The ceremony took place on the academy grounds in Colorado Springs with cadets socially distanced on the field, and guests and families watching live but remotely.

Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, AZ drafted the marching band director to organize how everyone would walk the stage and be filmed doing so. Every student will have an assigned time, and only students can attend – no family or friends. They will have the opportunity to see the school and a few administrators again, giving them a sense of closure. 415 graduates in the class will walk over 4 days, including all traditional speeches. The full video will be live streamed at original graduation time and then copies provided to anyone who wants one. On the last day of school, there will be a senior parade so they have a way say goodbye on their traditional last day. During the summer they will have an in-person tailgating gathering on campus.

Clinton High School in Arkansas will have a similar event, with students walking across the stage individually and being recorded, but they are allowing each senior to have a small amount of time to give a speech if they want from the stage. All video will be compiled into one virtual ceremony and each graduate will be given a ticket for two carloads of supporters to enter the town’s drive-in theater to “watch” the graduation ceremony from the big screen.

Special Guests from Northwest High School in Jackson, MI:

Seniors Meg Moffit and Chelsea Devolder

From a senior’s perspective, this has been disappointing for sure. The last three months are supposed to be the best of your school years, you’ve been looking forward to them for so long. But it’s part of life. You feel numb on finding out you’re not going back, there are so many emotions.

Our staff has done a good job of making us feel appreciated and recognized. It’s been great to see everyone adjusting to these times. Sometimes educators don’t get the credit they deserve, but it’s cool to see all the ways they’re finding ways to express their love for their students.

Some seniors are checking out, but we’re trying to stay engaged. We’re making a virtual prom video – everyone’s showing their prom dress and then motioning to move on to the next person. Leadership isn’t the same but we’re finding ways. For Decision Day, our broadcasting staff makes a video with a picture of every senior. It’s cool to look back on. We make sure everyone is seen.

For the ceremony itself, we would like to see a drive-through around the time of our scheduled graduation ceremony. A lot of our classmates going into the military are leaving for boot camp so it’s important to do something then. We can have something in person later.

To a classmate who was struggling, I would say, have hope that things will get better. Things seems like all bad news but we’re going to be able to get through it and see friends again. 20 years from now this won’t be a big deal, once we have jobs and families. Find the positives in everything. Be optimistic, live day to day. We don’t know when this will be over so we’re doing our best.

Virtual Commencement Center

Last week we talked about the Virtual Commencement Center, free to all schools. If you’re investigating virtual options for the ceremony, reach out to your Jostens rep (search on Jostens.com if you aren’t sure who that is). Free webinars are available for understanding all the options – there are three next week, and we’ll be adding more.

Virtual Commencement Center – enter the code provided by your local Jostens rep.

Virtual Commencement Flipbook

Other Ways to Honor the Class of 2020

The Virtual Commencement Center platform can also be used for senior recognition night or baccalaureate. There are lots of other ways to use it to recognize your seniors. You can also use it for middle and elementary school ceremonies. Jostens is providing this support to all schools at no charge.

Archbishop Rummel High School in New Orleans, LA had underclassmen baseball players organize drive-by parades in uniform for senior players during what would have their senior night game. Players, families, and fans inscribed senior names on baseballs and threw them from the vehicles, and included gift bags with personalized heartfelt notes.

Rogers High School and East Valley High School in Spokane, WA – The art teacher painted every senior’s name in the center of the football field. This recognizes all seniors, but also creates a great photo opportunity, wearing their cap and gown and posing next to their name.

Spanaway Lake High School, WA – Last week’s guest Jostens rep Rick Morton worked with his school to incorporate a senior parade with cap and gown pick-up. A student filmed the event and posted this video on social media to share from the student’s perspective.  

POST-EPISODE ADDITION: Rogers High School, Puyallup, WA – Check out this video of their drive-through cap and gown distribution, with signs, cheering and supportive staffulty.

Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, DE is having seniors submit pictures and/or videos of themselves, and a volunteer is compiling these into a video montage for seniors.

Coachella Valley High School in Thermal, CA organized an Adopt a Senior campaign where community members without a child adopt one to show their support, making them feel special and honored. This project both involves the community and shows students they have support.

Courtland High School in Fredericksburg, VA created a Pass the Diploma video. Seniors put on caps and gowns at home, then filmed themselves reaching to the right to grab a rolled-up diploma, turning their tassel, and then handing the diploma off to the left side of the screen. All individual videos were submitted and put to music. Some students showed their personalities, such as sports references or their college shirts.

Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga in CA had their PTO organize a senior celebration week, starting next week.

 

A High School in Canada – Turned the senior recognition around and had all their seniors submit short videos of themselves dancing to the same song with written messages of thanks and “I miss you”. The videos were compiled and dedicated to the staffulty of the school.  

Poplar Springs High School in FL – Phil Boyte posted this on School Culture by Design group of a Fox News story in Florida. The principal lined the entrance to the school with giant photos of every member of the Class of 2020.

 

Yearbook Distribution and Signing

An important part of yearbook distribution is the tradition of yearbook signing. Jostens is introducing a digital yearbook signing platform that provides students with a fun and interactive experience that results in a printable permanent keepsake. This flipbook gives a high-level overview of the Jostens digital signing solution, and also provides suggestions for socially distanced yearbook distribution events.

Thanks to Our Special Musical Guests:

Lee Ramsy, Assistant Principal at Rockvale High School in Rockvale, TN

Maddy Denton, Biology Teacher at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, TN

Graduation is often bittersweet for everyone. You’ve watched these kids grow and want them to move on, but it’s hard to see them leave.

 

Next Week: Motivation Monday – 11:00 CST, Monday, April 27.

Send your suggestions for recognizing seniors or future topics to [email protected] or [email protected].

 

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