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No. 2

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by Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
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Graduation: It’s Worth Celebrating!

High school graduation is a special milestone in your teen’s life. It signals the completion of years of hard work while anticipating a new season full of expectations and goals. If you are nearing the end of teaching your teen at home, get ready to celebrate! There are many different ways to commemorate the occasion and honor your teen.



What are We Celebrating?

Take time to discuss with your teen the significance of graduation: it is more than the culmination of much studying and completion of a set of requirements. It’s a celebration of the maturing process of moving from teen to young adult and from dependence to independence in such areas as decision making, taking responsibility, and walking wisely. It is a time of looking forward with your graduate to applying lessons, using acquired skills, solidifying convictions, and seeing the foundation laid in high school as just the beginning of his or her education.

Why Take the Time to Celebrate?

Your teen will graduate from high school just one time in his life! Marking the occasion will help him to see high school graduation not as the end of something, but as a bright beginning. The festivity allows you to enjoy recognizing your teen for successfully surmounting many challenges. It also provides the opportunity to acknowledge and thank people who have influenced him through these years.

For teens who are not sure of what direction to take next, a celebration will give them special remembrance of the high school years and an occasion to rejoice in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. On a practical note, knowing that you’ve planned a celebration for graduation may be just the reminder your teen needs to “see the finish line” and wrap up final coursework, put that research paper to bed, and log those last few hours in PE!

How Should We Celebrate?

The sky (or your budget) is the limit! Since this occasion is in your teen’s honor, ask her what type of celebration would bless her and if she would like to be part of the planning process. Would she like a small intimate gathering with family and a few friends, including those who have been significant in her life (coaches, teachers, mentors, neighbors, coworkers, employers, church members)? Or would she prefer a group graduation coordinated by a state homeschool association, umbrella school, or support group?

Don’t feel limited to a “traditional” graduation ceremony. Some teens may prefer something unique and out of the ordinary. For example, instead of spending money on a graduation party, your teen may prefer to have you invest in lessons in an area of interest such as culinary skills, art, music, photography, scuba diving, skydiving, or countless other experiences.

Here for You

HSLDA members may contact our high school consultants, Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer, for advice on teaching teens. Call 540-338-5600 or visit www.hslda.org/contactstaff.

Check out HSLDA’s high school webpages for more helpful information on teaching teens.

Brochures: For help on topics from developing a plan for high school to preparing your teen for the workforce.

Email newsletter and archives

High school consultants’ blog

Where Should We Hold the Celebration?

Your teen’s guest and wish lists will give you a better idea of the type and size of venue you’ll need. The setting for the graduation will determine many of the other important aspects of the day such as possible days/times, whether the festivities will be formal or informal, and if food will be available or allowed. Some graduates opt for a traditional ceremony complete with caps and gowns, graduation announcements, and the much-loved “Pomp and Circumstance”! Churches or auditoriums often provide convenient settings if a group of friends are graduating together. Ordinarily, a reception afterwards can be hosted at the same facility.

Your home or backyard would be a lovely site for a more intimate affair. A cookout or an open house could be part of the plan. An outdoor pavilion in a nearby park may be an alternative allowing for more guests. If young children are included in the invitation, parks may offer the advantage of providing room and facilities to entertain without much extra preparation. Party stores and online suppliers sell paper products, signs, balloons, and more to help you create a festive mood.

Need more ideas? Hosting a dinner at a favorite restaurant, renting a cabin or beach house for the weekend, gathering at an amusement park or museum, or attending a sporting event, concert, or other performance with a group are all additional ways to celebrate graduation. If your teen loves camping, invite friends and relatives to a weekend graduation campout. Some teens combine senior music recitals with the awarding of diplomas, allowing the audience to experience and enjoy students’ accomplishments.

Some families commemorate the end of the high school years by taking a trip together. Involve your teen by providing a budget and letting him plan the getaway. If your teen doesn’t have strong preferences on a destination and is adventurous, surprise him with a mystery graduation trip. You can give enough clues for him to pack accordingly, but wait to identify the destination until the day of the trip.

What Do We Include in the Celebration?

A meaningful celebration usually doesn’t happen without some prior thought and planning. If your teen is taking part in a group graduation, the organizers will plan out details such as a slide show presentation featuring each graduate, parent speeches and the awarding of diplomas, and a guest speaker. Smaller, informal graduations can include these types of details but also provide the opportunity for friends and family to share testimonials and memories of your teen. Perhaps a few guests could share passages from Scripture, words of encouragement, and prayers. Your graduate may wish to say a few words as well. And … take lots of pictures! Your teen may not have an official high school yearbook, but online photo processing companies such as Shutterfly and Snapfish enable you to easily create wonderful photo books that will become a keepsake of your teen’s high school years and graduation.

What Supplies are Available for Celebrations?

The HSLDA Store sells graduation caps, gowns, announcements, tassels, honor cords, thank-you cards, and T-shirts imprinted with the year of graduation. Diplomas (personalized upon request) and covers are also available.

Senior pictures are meaningful to many teens: check out photographers or friends who can snap an attractive picture to include with the graduation announcements. (Studios that specialize in graduation photos usually have caps and gowns on hand for the photo session, so you don't necessarily need to purchase your own if they won't be needed for a graduation ceremony.) Often, local newspapers have special tribute pages where you can submit your teen's graduation announcement, picture, and a brief indication of future plans. Your teen may also appreciate a custom senior ring or other memento of graduation. Check out Lord’s Fine Jewelry and Jostens.

Parents, we applaud you for your hard work and perseverance along with your teens. Let’s hear it for celebrating good times and finishing the high school years well!

About the authors

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer are HSLDA high school consultants.