Types of Graduations
BY LUKE DROESE '24
It’s that time of the year again when leaving is just around the corner. Although we typically think of high school and college when it comes to graduation, many education systems offer graduations at various points in a student’s life. Let’s put on our caps and gowns and dive into what each graduation ceremony entails!
First comes preschool graduation. Typically, students wear some sort of self-decorated cap and a gown. Of course I put Sesame Street and alphabet stickers on my graduation cap. The teacher gives a grand speech about how the students have grown so much, and then they walk on down to get their diploma. You look out at a small crowd of your peer’s parents. Let’s be real: the event usually isn’t a big deal for most of the parents, but it marks the start of a student’s academic journey.
Second comes elementary school. This graduation takes place at different points in time; some graduate in fifth grade, others eighth. Usually, people wear whatever clothing they want, formal or not. The principal usually gives a speech to the families and students in attendance. Afterward, students are given diplomas and return to their parents. At my elementary school graduation, we all went outside to the playground to enjoy the last day, eating sweets in celebration. This ceremony marks the halfway point of a student's education.
Middle school graduation is the black sheep of graduations, tending to be similar to the elementary school ceremony. Formal clothing is optional, and students are given their diplomas. Some schools have it, while others forgo the ceremony. I reached out to Mr. Marcotte, the current principal of Acton’s RJ Grey Junior High School, to ask why they do not hold an eighth grade graduation. “We do an end-of-year school assembly and recognize some departing 8th graders at that time,” Mr. Marcotte remarked. “At this point, we are comfortable with our practices and think that we do a nice job of sending off our 8th graders into the 9th grade without a formal graduation.” RJ Grey has substituted the lack of a graduation ceremony through other recognition, and it has now become the norm at AB.
High school graduation is the most notorious out of all the graduations. It is truly the end of an era. All of your peers will be starting so many different paths in life, whether they’re going to college, entering the workforce, or taking a gap year. At the ceremony, students wear a cap and gown with a tassel. Certain students who are in the National Honors Society get a different colored tassel. The leaders of the school make a speech about the graduating class and present diplomas as each student’s name is read out. Finally, your name is called. You hear the cheers of all your friends, family, and those you haven’t even met before. All eyes are on you as you walk across the stage to greet the principal and get your diploma. The crowd roars once the principal hands you your certificate of graduation, and you return to your seat as your next peer leaves high school forever.
Woah–you are suddenly graduating college! College graduations are a whole different breed, but not necessarily because of the ceremony. The difference mainly stems from the weight of your experience. For the past few years, you have been sleeping, eating, panicking, and studying with a close group of people. You feel the weight lift off of your chest, leaving these people you have spent so much time with. With this also comes the added stress of succeeding in a world without academics. How you navigate post-college life is up to you…
Ceremonies have students in a cap and gown overlooking the relatives and friends of all your fellow graduates. Some students may have certain things added to their graduation fits based on their respective identities. The president or dean of the college might deliver a speech. Afterwards, there is typically a guest speaker who is an alma mater of the school. One by one, students come up to receive their diploma and enter the world of adulting. After the ceremony is finished, students celebrate with their loved ones and pack up all the stuff in their dorm into a big suitcase. Taking one final look at their dorm, they shut the door for the final time knowing that whatever comes next is sure to be great.
Graduations take different forms, and as we grow older, it takes a greater emotional toll on us. They are a huge moment, not just for the graduates but also their families and friends as they see a student move towards a new phase of life. I wish the Class of ‘23 all the best in their future, whatever it may be for you.