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 3, 2020.

In this weekly series, we will share a different angle on how schools and districts are choosing to handle graduation. This week we are talking about the importance of protecting the ceremony itself as plans are being made for the rest of the year. Next week we will explore virtual options for graduation.

Key Message

Need to start communicating now that graduation isn’t cancelled, just postponed. Share the “You Will Graduate” video from Jostens. Reinforce your relationship with your community, like John Bush from Marshall County High School did.

School closure update

  • 9 states have closed schools for the remainder of the year
  • Most states have closed schools at least until mid-to-late April, and many to early May

 What the Class of 2020 is missing

  • Last special weeks of high school
  • Closure to high school relationships
  • Spring sports seasons for senior athletes
  • Final performances for arts groups
  • Traditions such as proms, senior skip days, senior trips
  • On top of all this: fear that they will miss graduation as well

Why the ceremony is important

  • Recognizes work parents and teachers have done to get them across the line
  • Individual achievement: your chair, with your name on it
  • Standing ovation (may be only time in their life)
  • Bringing that special someone who got you there, catching their eye, and making them proud
  • Shaking the principal’s hand
  • Audience rises in unity, throwing cap in air – it’s a moment in time that lasts
  • Teachers and staff get to show their caring and commitment as well
  • Celebrate with classmates, who’ve been through a lot together
  • Students have overcome so many hardships to get here, and deserve to be celebrated

 Ways to protect the ceremony by changing it

  • Virginia Tech – Seniors can walk in December or next May. There will be a special football game next fall where they can run through the traditional tunnel onto the field in grad regalia with the team.
  • Jostens rep Lindsay Bellus did cap and gown delivery at a local restaurant to bring in business for carryout meals at the same time.
  • Dickson County Schools in TN – Set alternate dates for prom and graduation in June and July, will go later if needed. This isn’t cancelled, just postponed.
  • Northwest High School in Texas distributed caps and gowns for graduations with a drive-up delivery service with Jostens reps Justin and Christi Ray.
  • Look for unique ways to make sure everyone gets celebrated – for example, military recruits may not be able to come back.
  • PC’s baseball championship tournament was the night of graduation ceremony, so they held graduation ceremony on the field with caps, gowns and diplomas.
  • Parade where seniors wear caps and gowns and drive through town with police escort, people gather to cheer them on.
  • Double parade in school driveway, with staff socially distancing and seniors driving through in caps and gowns. – Marnie Hade

Other ways to honor seniors

  • Flip on stadium lights every Friday night at the time graduation was scheduled.
  • #SeniorSpotlights on social media every day with a picture, favorite school memory, faculty shout out, and favorite school tradition they will miss after they graduate.
  • Parents decorate senior spirit doors for their kids, or students could do this for others.
  • Virtual Sign on the Line ceremony for seniors every Wednesday, not just for athletes, but anyone who signs for college, military, or trade school. – Paul Dols, Monrovia High School
  • Publish a slideshow of baby pictures, senior pictures, and a quote. – Ryan Lambert

However your ceremony occurs, make sure your yearbook staff is there to record and document it because it will be possibly the most special and significant ceremony in your school’s history.

 “Everything you have ever gone through in life, every success, every challenge, has brought you to this very moment. But do not let this moment be the greatest moment of your life. Take this and keep going.” – Oprah Winfrey


How is your school celebrating seniors? Email your story to [email protected].



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