Graduation Etiquette

by admin on May 17, 2010

Caps Off!

Check with your school administration to ascertain whether throwing caps is allowed. Some schools now disallow this, opting instead to hand out streamers or confetti for students to throw afterward.  If you do throw you cap, toss it straight up in the air.  Flipping it like a Frisbee into the audience could harm someone.

Speaking of caps, writing goofy comments on the mortar board is a tradition going back decades.  Sure, it ruins the decorum of the appearance but the vast majority of them are joyful expressions of relief that adds a touch of levity to the event.  Just be sure to not put something distasteful on your mortarboard.  Most of us really do not want to view foul language, references to sex or graphic images as part of our memory of the day. 

Hold your applause

Everyone in attendance should restrain themselves from yelling or clapping for their student during the ceremony out of respect for the other students and their families.  Yes, we know this is a major milestone for Darling Fifi to graduate from high school but it’s also everyone else’s major milestone as well.  If you scream, yell, clap and make a general spectacle of yourself after your child’s name is called, the likelihood is quite high that your celebratory hoopla will disrupt the flow of the diploma presentations and drown out the calling of the name of the student following yours.  You wouldn’t want some yahoo diminishing your child’s brief moment of recognition so don’t do it to others.

Restrain thyselves, shutterbugs

Watching a child graduate from high school is undoubtedly a proud moment in any parent’s life. And capturing that moment on film will be a top priority for some.  But your need to photographically document the exact moment your child receives his/her diploma does not take precedent over the needs of the many to keep the program proceeding on time without disruptions.   Parents should stay seated and let the professional photographers hired for the occasion to do their jobs.

Leave the pranks for later

Graduates, that brief moment you’ll have walking across the stage to receive your diploma and a handshake from principal, superintendent or chancellor shouldn’t be marred by some stupid  prank.  Wearing nothing under your robe and flashing, mooning the audience or shooting the principal the bird behind his/her back as you walk off stage are all crass actions that will indelibly imprint on your neighbors’ and families minds just what an immature jerk you really are.   And in this day of electronic gadgets able to record everything, your antics may live forever in Youtube, much to the shame and embarrassment of your parents, your future spouse, and eventually you when a prospective employer finds it during the interview process for a job you really, really want or need.

Save the whine and cheeses for another time, Mom

Unless your kid graduated from a 1 room schoolhouse on the prairie with a graduating class size of 10, the probability is high that your school’s administration will have limited seating for the families of all graduates at the ceremony.   Restricting guests to a set number of tickets is pretty routine in fairness to all.  Whining in the editorial section of your local newspaper about how your Darling Fifi’s graduation is ruined because you couldn’t get more tickets to seat every aunt, uncle, cousin and third cousins marks you as a pathetic whiner whose attitude of entitlement makes you think you somehow deserve more tickets than everyone is receiving.

Am I missing anything else, readers?

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

PinkPenguin May 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Please do NOT talk during the speeches or the musical performance. We all know these things tend to be a bit tedious (unless, of course, it’s your own darling Fifi), but that’s no excuse for yakking through the whole thing, particularly at normal conversational volume level, disturbing those around you.


janie May 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm

It never ceases to amaze me the people who make numerous trips in and out of the gymnasium during the ceremony. I only assume they must have a weak bladder or something. And how about, shut off your cell phone? Pulllease, I’m pretty sure you’re not that important.


Amanda May 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I would like to add a corollary to the photography point.

Sometimes schools, whether high schools or colleges, set aside a space for parents to go to take photos without getting in the professional’s way. If you do use this space, parents, please show courtesy to all the other parents wishing to use the same space by not hogging it the whole time your student is up on the stands. I’ve heard and seen too many parents who just won’t move out of the way, and it’s especially intrusive at graduations that have more than one student on the stage at a time.


ferretrick May 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Students have waited 18 years to throw their caps. It is a tradition. Do not hire a facility that is too stuffy to allow this just because you want to appear pretentious; among other things, the students are going to throw them anyway. Trying to forbid it will only insure instead of one semi dignified toss, they will go off randomly throughout the entire ceremony.

Someone needs to read and coach the valedictorian and salutatorian on their speeches. Do not allow a student with no public speaking skills to humiliate themselves. For that matter, public speaking is a life skill that you should have insured all your students acquired during their time in your institution. When the students hem, haw, shake, lose their thoughts, or generally look like a deer in headlights, it reflects poorly on the education you provided.

For that matter, the same applies to graduation speakers. Hire someone capable of giving an interesting speech in an articulate manner, and limit them on the time.


LtPowers May 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Your advice, while generally good, does not apply in all cases. I just attended my sister-in-law’s college graduation, and not only were family members encouraged to move about to obtain pictures (there was no professional photographer present as far as I could tell), but there was also plenty of time between the calling of one graduate’s name and the calling of the next for restrained applause and the occasional whoop of elation.

Granted, hers is a small college, but you didn’t issue a caveat that your advice only applied to large ceremonies. =)


AS May 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Your “hold you applause” hit home hard. I go to grad school in a very big University in USA. My boyfriend and I went for the grad school graduation for a friend of mine. I was surprised to hear a lot of too loud applause and shouting (I have been to earlier graduations here, and never had such a trouble). This is despite the fact that it was announced to refrain from applauding.

I can understand some small kids who start clapping when their father or mother’s name is announced – it was the case with some people and lot of times the guardians tried to stop them quickly (in grad school people often go to graduation with their children). But adults who are at their friend’s graduation, most of who are in grad school? They ought to know better!

What annoyed me more was that some other groups started clapping and yelling too after a few kept making a raucous. The person announcing the name cannot hold off from calling the next name till the applause died down as they are very good with time for the graduation. As a result, the clapping would go on till 1 or 2 more names have been called! I’d be pretty upset if my name cannot be heard when I graduate, just because the person in front of me has relatives who are not cognizant of the families of other people graduating (and so would my parents be irritated who will be flying to a different continent just for that one big moment in my life).


Patty May 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Sounds like it’s a complete list to me. Although, my kids high school does not hire professional photographers to take pictures. (the school records it and you can buy copies) So you still have parents line up on the side of the aud trying to capture the moment. And yeah, our school hands the student 6 tickets for the ceremony. My DD have 2 parents, 2 step parents, 7 grandparents and 3 siblings. Should be fun in 2 years trying to get extra tickets. (I won’t whine, the school has a waiting list and I will waiting patiently.)


January Girl May 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm


Yes, these things DO tend to run long. But please, PLEASE bring something to keep them occupied, including snacks and drinks. Children running up and down bleachers (especially the old wooden ones) creak and make noise. Noise is expected, but please be respectful. Same with babies. Gyms, halls, arenas, etc. can get hot and stuffy, making it hard on babies. They cry. Please take them outside to finish their crying fit. No one is going to think you are a bad parent if your child cries. They’ll think you’re a bad parent if you DON’T take them outside to soothe them.


Allison Ekstrom May 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I think this should go for college graduations as well. My husband’s last year was a zoo! But I will add that parents need to keep an eye on their little ones and not let them run around during the ceremony. And don’t leave the ringer of your cell phone on and then try to talk to said family member who is late and trying to find parking loudly in the middle of the everything. The hooping and hollering, the camera clickers blocking everyone’s veiw, the kids, and the cell phone thing all happened at my husband’s ceremony.

And P.S. I was irked when the graduates insisted on hugging the MC and or the person handing them the diploma. Do it after the ceremony where it won’t hang a long line of graduates and the ceremony up.


Mom May 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Having just come from Darling First-Born’s college commencement, I will add three things.

Leave the air-horns at home. Please. Especially if you are sitting behind me.

If you stand to cheer or take pictures, recognize that you are blocking the view of several people behind you.

If you must bring the related small-fry, bring a coloring book. Do not attempt to entertain them during the two and a half hour ceremony with a Nintendo (sound left on) or a non-stop conversation.

Lastly, try to ignore all the above and revel in Darling First-Born’s big day!


HonorH May 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

When I graduated from high school and college, our robes came with two caps. One was made with semi-stiff foam rubber, and the other was a traditional hard mortarboard. The foam one was for throwing, so no one put an eye out, and the mortarboard was to keep. IMHO, it makes a good compromise.


Brian Katcher May 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I just attended a graduation yesterday. I could not believe the number of families that just got up and left after their student’s name was called. Imagine having your view of your kid’s graduation blocked by some dullard getting up to leave in the middle of the ceremony.

And schools, if you have an adult speaker, keep it brief. No one wants to hear someone they don’t know yack for 45 minutes about their life lessons.


Amy May 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm

My high school graduation, uh, almost 20 years ago. . .was the first to provide tickets for graduation. It was due to the former graduation location being shut down for code violations. While it was a shock since as an undergrad I had gone to several of my friends’ graduations prior, this ended up working out for the best. I think we each got six tickets, I only used five, so I dropped my extra ticket off the school’s office for them to redistribute to others requesting extra tickets. And I think my extended family was grateful that they didn’t have to sit through two plus hours of a ceremony!

My college graduation was long, way too long. While it was nice to walk across that stage, I think I would have enjoyed it more if they just did groupings by school. But your list works out well and I think most everyone at both of my graduations did a great job of respecting the events.


Laura May 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

This happened to me, and still burns my mom when we talk about it.
Teach your graduating children manners!
When I had my highschool graduation party, I invited a wide swath of people, from the nicer popular kids (I was kinda at the bottom of the popularity ladder, but thought “at least these people were nice to me”) to my friends to teachers I really liked. Don’t you know that at my party, the popular kids that did show up started handing out invitations to thier parties to the teachers I invited! I didn’t say anything at the time, but I wish I had.


Katrina May 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I must admit that my college class got a little roudy. We were a small class at a small college and had the type of relationship in which we felt comfortable gently tossing beach balls around the area while our president (who knew most of us by name) spoke. But as soon as the guest speaker started to speak, we all were quiet and respectful. Flour bombs, etc are unacceptable. Especially when thrown from the family members and friends…


J. May 18, 2010 at 7:52 am

This sadly should already be a general rule in life, but I feel it must be repeated. As a graduate, please don’t show up drunk to your own graduation. Nothing is worse then sitting next to someone who smells like beer. Even worse is having to help them get to their seats, which takes away from your moment.


jan May 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

I have attened a few high school graduations in the last 15 years. My daughter was in public school and the graduation was held in an area with the grads sitting on the main floor and the families in the stands. The noise was outrageous, the screaming and yelling annoying, the deportment of the guests was atrocious. It was a most unpleasant experience for me because my graduation some 30 years before was well done and respectful.

Also I have attended several graduations at a private school. I was one of the paid musicians. Usually the speakers were barely interesting and long winded. One, however, was a TV personality and he was so enjoyable I didn’t want him to stop talking! Anyway, at this school the students would be lined up according to how long they attended the school. The shortest in attendence first. Each student had his school acomplishments read out and what he/she was going to do after graduation (college, military, etc) . All scholarships were listed. By the time the last students, the ones who started in kindergarten, came on stage it was taking several long minutes to read their bios. It took over 2 hours to graduate 30 students. All this time, the musician’s instruments were going cold and out of tune so that our last offering was always quite earsplitting.

So my suggestions are to save the bios for the yearbook, limit the time the speakers are allowed to talk and keep them to that limit. Get the grads across the stage as quickly and gracefully as possible. That way everyone can go home or to their graduation party and still be fresh and happy.


Casey May 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

HonorH that is an awesome idea.

This really should go without saying but booing is not acceptable. There was a visibly pregnant girl in my graduating class. Our school colors are blue and white so the boys wore blue robes and the girls wore white. When the pregnant girl walked across the stage to accept her diploma, a man shouted “No way in H*LL should she be wearing white!” and the guy next to him chanted briefly “MOBY DICK!” I gave her credit though, she held her head high. I would’ve walked off crying.


Mary May 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Having just returned from a college commencement ceremony, I feel compelled to share my graduation experience at my alma mater when receiving my masters’ degree.

What my school does is hand out all diplomas at sub-departmental ceremonies, to which the graduate may invite as many people as he or she would like. And since the ceremonies are small (mine for the English department honored about 45 graduates), the graduate’s family can applaud for their graduate without disrupting things too much.

The full ceremony for the entire school occurs on Sunday. What happens there is all the graduates process into the stadium, and when it comes time to officially “confer the diplomas”, the president calls the name of the overarching department (of which there are only seven), all students of that department rise, and he says, “I hereby confer upon you this degree, with all rights and privileges thereto.” They move their tassels if appropriate, everyone applauds, and they all sit back down. The students have already been honored individually, and no one has to sit through the reading of 1,500 names.

I would love to see more colleges adopt this particular model for their commencement ceremonies – it seems eminently sensible.


Dina May 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

At my high school graduation in 2000, we didn’t actually have our diplomas handed to us (they were dummy ones). They got mailed to us a month or so later. This meant that if you pulled shenanigans at graduation, you didn’t get your diploma! (Not that it stopped the most determined…)

I agree with Jan – keep it short. My high school graduation was four long hours… and that was the shortest my school had seen in ages! By the end of it I just wanted the whole thing over. 😛


kidsis May 19, 2010 at 2:11 am

When I graduated in 1998, there were around 350 students that walked. Our setup was very organized as we had 2 lines to get the students across the stage in a timely manner. This allowed time for the graduate to walk across stage, receive their “diploma”, shake the school official’s hand while getting our picture taken by the professional photographer, then leaving for our seat. We were given our diploma covers with our diplomas available about a month after school was out, which meant that our diploma could be held until some detention time was served at the beginning of the next school year.

Applause and cheering after someone’s name was called was acceptable since we were in a large venue with a very good sound system. Also, since our venue was so large, there were no restrictions on how many people could attend for any given graduate.

We were not allowed to throw our caps or any other object. Any student caught throwing their cap would be suspended for the rest of the school year (we graduated about a week before the official end of school and had to return the last 2 days for finals) and would have to make up the time in summer school along with some detention time.

We had no mishaps (other than the photographers’ cameras having some issues) and our graduation was less than 3 hours total time (including marching in and exiting).


PDamian May 20, 2010 at 3:06 am

I’m an associate professor at a mid-sized university in the northwestern USA. Our student body is pretty diverse, with a wide range of ethnicities and nationalities represented. However, it’s not economically or socially diverse. Many of our students are the first members of their families to go to college, let alone graduate; and many of our international students are here on scholarships, or come from families who have scrimped and saved to pay their tuition. The families of these students tend to be incredibly loud at commencement ceremonies, and this year was no different. There was lots of screaming, shouting, whooping, cheering and waving of flags, despite the repeated pleas of our provost to “refrain from applauding until everyone’s name has been announced.” The faculty member sitting next to me (I was there representing my department) muttered, “Give it up, dude,” and I understood immediately. No-one who’s flown all the way from Nepal to see a son or daughter graduate, or witnessed the longstanding dream of seeing the first member of the family receive a diploma, is going to remain politely silent.

I understand that the shrieking and whooping can be disruptive, and that commencement ceremonies are already lengthy affairs that don’t need any more time added. But I understand the screamers, too.


Morgs May 21, 2010 at 1:22 am

Rather superfluous advice – the MC will indicate what is acceptable (photography, applause etc.) before announcing the graduates. As always, it comes down to the individual to behave! Tickets allocations are disclosed way before the ceremony, and pranks are usually a campus activity reserved for your last day, not at graduation. I’ve experienced two graduations: high school and university. The high school graduation had entire families present, who applauded each award/graduate – which was acceptable since it was a small class (less than 100 students). No caps/gowns worn either, just school uniform. University was a broader affair with several hundred graduates and audience seating limited to two per graduate (so I only had my dad and my girlfriend in attendance). Caps and gowns, but hardly anyone threw their cap in the air afterward – I think it’s seen as tacky these days (or people didn’t want to risk losing their cap and forfeit the security deposit!). One or two people showboated on stage but it quickly becomes obvious when several hundred people are do not approve of your antics. It really all depends on the graduates, it’s their day – and they’ll acknowledge what they find appropriate.


Rolyn May 21, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I graduated in 2009 and I remember how irritating it was for me sitting there and waiting for the long winded speeches. Really, the graduates just want to walk across the darn stage and get the darn diploma. What irked me the most was the people who would scream and yell “Jeah boy!!! Whooo!!!!!! I love you!!! Sexy!!!!!” when their graduate’s name was called. I don’t mind it for a few seconds but some people went on for at least 3 graduates to pass and those poor 3’s names couldn’t be heard.


DoneL May 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Oh please. I just graduated. Everyone’s families clapped, cheered etc. And us students made sure to make a ruckus as well. In fact, most of us applauded every single classmate, sensitive to the fact that not everyone had family there. It’s a joyous occasion, and it’s not a violation of some rule to celebrate it!


Brittany May 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

When I graduated just a year ago, it was a very large ceremony. And for the first 40 minutes or so, everything was going smoothly, except by the end of the first hour, families started walking into the seating area where the students were and were retrieving them if they had already walked across the stage. This continued, getting progressively louder and louder, to the point where no one could hear the names being called and then they started to stand and mill around in front of the graduation stage. They had to stop the entire ceremony, and the dean of one of the colleges got up on the stage, blew an airhorn into the mic and started lecturing the parents and the already graduated students. When he sat back down, there was silence. The families and the remaining students (either waiting to walk or the one’s being respectful) cheered loudly. All the offenders left rather quickly after and the ceremony proceeded in peace and (moderate) decorum.

and I can see both the points of Rolyn and DoneL. I think it’s just moderation. I know I clapped and cheered, but most of us kept it short enough that everyone could hear their name. When I graduated High School, I didn’t hear my name, or anything that might have been shouted at me due to the continued shouting/air-horns from the person in front of me. And, being honest, it pissed me off at the time.


TabooSushi May 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm

This happened at my high school graduation ceremony several times, and now that I am soon to be attending my younger sister’s ceremony at the same school where it will no doubt happen again, I want to put this out there:

Families of Grads:
During the processional where the grads are walking proudly to their seats for all to see, PLEASE do NOT run onto the football field/gym floor/etc. the moment your grad passes by and proceed to throw confetti, spray silly string, shout/yell, and otherwise make a big show of him/her. Not only am I sure that it’s embarrassing to the grad, but it holds up the procession by forcing the grads behind him/her to slow down/stop while you carry on, thusly holding up the entire ceremony. This happened SEVERAL times during my ceremony, and was very aggravating. You’re interrupting everyone else’s special day when you do this, please save the shenannegans for afterwards.


KJ May 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I would add- the school sets the formality of the event. Families should ask their graduate what the ceremony will be like. Some, like my high school graduation, were very formal. Graduates wore white dresses and curtsied. My family knew that ahead of time. My college graduation was not formal at all and it was very personal. No one wore caps and gowns. Every student was presented by a member of the faculty and had a chance to speak and thank the school. With 60 students, this was doable and it is the school’s tradition. The school knew the ceremony would be long and provided lunch. The formality of the ceremony should, as much as anything, dictate the behavior of the gradates and the families. It is hard to say that any rules are universal because each school has different guidelines and levels of formality. The only rules that might be universal is ‘be courteous to others’ and ‘obey the school’s guidelines.’


Ari May 25, 2010 at 5:05 am

I hate that I have to say this, but, Parents, PLEASE STAY AFTER THE CEREMONY TO GREET YOUR GRADUATE!

My mom and dad are the loveliest people I know, but after my ceremony, they gave up trying to find me in the hoopla and just left, since I had my own car. It was heartbreaking! Especially since I was taking a few people in my car to the graduation party after a brief stop at my house to change, and so I had to wait around while their adoring parents hugged and congratulated them, took pictures, and chatted with their child.

A few of my friends folks even came up to me, standing off to the side so as not to ruin the photos, and said, “Where are your parents?”

I borrowed a mobile phone and rang my house, and, sure enough, mom and dad were there, waiting to greet me when I got home, and didn’t understand why they should have waited. When I explained that I would have eventually found them, and it would have been nice to see them after the ceremony like everyone else’s parents, they understood and apologised, but it was really a tarnish on my happy day.

So, Parents, I know it’s going to be crowded (My graduating class was about 500 or 600 people, plus their families!) but either organise a spot to meet up afterwards, make sure the both of you have a cell phone, or else keep a weather eye — your graduate will be so disappointed if you just assume that meeting them back at the house later is the same thing as smothering them with affection in front of all their friends immediately after they got their precious diploma.


Stephanie May 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Here’s a graduation etiquette story for you all:
My high school is rather large, 700-800 students in each graduating class. When I graduated, it was mandatory to sit through the graduation rehearsal before you could get tickets for your family members, to ensure that everyone knew what was going on. Good move. Fast forward a few years, new principle hands out tickets to each student at the beginning of my brother’s graduation rehearsal, and just about every kid takes them and leaves with very little idea of what’s going to happen… So at the ceremony, after the last kid’s name is called, all the students freak out, start throwing hats and leaving their seats, because none of them knew that their class still was supposed to be officially presented and closing remarks made. A lot of family members were disappointed that it ended so confusingly, and my brother was really annoyed that they didn’t get presented…
It’s just common sense to me that in order to attend the ceremony you should have to participate in the rehearsal, and the school administrators who did not enforce that ended up letting down hundreds of people. That’s rude.


Jane May 30, 2010 at 9:31 am


Are you me?

I could swear you’re telling the story of my high school graduation. Needless to say, I concur completely!
Do not, DO NOT, assume that just because your graduate drove themselves that waiting to meet them at home is the same as finding them afterward.

At mine we got empty holders during the ceremony (to keep shenanigans down), and then we went into the school to get the actual diplomas.
I can’t even describe how humiliating it is to be wandering around alone while literally ALL of your friends are with their families and you finally realize that yours left without you.
Mine were waiting for me at home, but by the time I got home I was crying and they just seemed baffled about why.


Leah June 1, 2010 at 12:29 am

I love this list, btw. SO unbelievably handy. Thank you to everyone who has contributed! 🙂

As someone who is graduating from high school in a month (YAY!) I have a couple of pointers to make. These apply to my school in particular but they can apply everywhere.

Grad organisers: Please, please, PLEASE try your very best to schedule your graduation ceremony on a weekend. The grad ceremony at my school is being held on a Monday, meaning that there are quite a few would-be guests that won’t be able to make it because they will be at work, much more than if the ceremony would have been held on a Saturday or Sunday, or even on a Friday.

Grads: Please refrain from cat-calling or making fun of those walking on stage. This is a given. Nobody wants a bunch of immature people spoiling your diploma walk by yelling out insults.

Grad guests: See above. Also, my best advice is to treat the Grad ceremony like you would treat a wedding or funeral (Ok, so that last one was a bad example, but you get my drift). This can be done by making your trips in and out to an absolute minimum and by turning off cell phones and other electronic devices.

One last pointer: During the Grand March (this might be my school only), when you announce the graduate and their date, if the graduate is taking along another graduate as a grad date, PLEASE say the other grad’s name as well. Nobody wants to be brushed off at their grad ceremony. Thank you.


Shea June 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Some mortar boards are now foam, so there’s not much chance of injury from being tossed.


Kelly June 13, 2010 at 11:38 am

I graduated back in 1982, the ceremony was held in our school gymnasium. My school was fairly small, I think my graduating class size was around 92. In the middle of the ceremony during the valedictorian speech, a classmate staggered up drunk to take his seat. I think about his poor humiliated mother and father having to sit in the audience as their son stumbled and weaved down the aisle all by himself.

Than it was finally time to receive our diploma’s. They began calling our names. My last name started with a C, and I was next in line to have my name called and was standing at the ready to walk across the stage…when a burst of firecrackers, m-80’s and other fireworks rigged behind the platform went off, the culprits were standing up and shouting ‘rock-n-roll 82’!!!, girls were crying, the valedictorian sobbed “they’ve ruined everything”!!!. I had nothing to do with it, just the misfortune to be next in line when the whole thing went off. As the noise died away and the smoke from the fireworks drifted across the stage obscuring everything, my name was called and I walked across the stage (not that my family could see me through the smoke) and the superintendent thrust the diploma at me (rather hard I thought!), in a daze I took my seat.

Of course the gym floor was ruined. The boys had their diploma’s withheld and they had to pay for the gym floor. It’s odd, because i never thought of my class as being particulary rowdy, so i have no idea what got into those boys to pull a stunt like that. Anyway, after the horror of my graduation, I don’t get to upset at the hand-clapping and other behaviour at current ceremonies!


Bork June 29, 2010 at 6:51 pm

You guys are going to LOVE the graduation “traditions” at my high school….

First off the graduation takes place on the football field, so since it’s outside it’s apparently perfectly okay to bring in AIR HORNS. These are to be used the moment your child’s name is called and for the entire ceremony after. Any other noise making device, including your own mouth, is also acceptable. (Hey, those vuvuzelas are popular! Why not bring those?) Also, since each year about 900 students graduate you know the ceremony is going to be LONG. So go ahead and bring some tequila to make the experience tolerable. For a finishing touch, why not pay to have a plane fly a banner above the ceremony? Because goodness knows, how else would you’re dear Johnny know you’re proud of him?

Two years out of high school and it still pisses me off… (And I had to experience this 3 times… at my own graduation and at both my older brothers’…)


Candace June 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Make sure you get a good night’s rest. I didn’t and I literally passed out during the speech…which was way too long.


TheBardess June 30, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Candace- good advice! 🙂

Oh, and even if it is hot and muggy and you are six months pregnant and sweltering in your formal clothes (because the only formal maternity clothes you have were not designed for summer) under your robe and are being forced to sit through the never-ending speeches of TWO droning and pompous valedictorians, resist the temptation to stand up and yell “Can we move it along, please? Nobody cares, and THE PREGNANT WOMAN IS DYING, HERE!”

I did manage to resist…but barely. 🙂


ali July 14, 2010 at 11:53 am

In my opinion, limiting tickets is not fair to those with big families. My sister graduated this past year and all students were limited to 10 tickets. My dad was one of 8 kids and of course most of our family wanted to come. We understood that not *all* could come, in fact, some went to our cousin’s graduation. But some of the other students only needed 2 tickets out of their 10 and the others went to waste. So how is it fair that one student has their family there, but another could only invite a few?


Leah August 7, 2010 at 9:32 am

Hello, this is the same Leah that posted above. I graduated at the end of June, and it was a wonderful occasion enjoyed by all. That being said, I have something to add here, although this isn’t as much of an etiquette breach as it is an inconvenience to some of the graduates. Grad organizers we deeply appreciate that you supplied water bottles for the graduates as the stadium where the celebrations were held was very hot and humid. Truly, we do. But it makes absolutely no sense that, soon after giving us these bottles of water, we’re told that we’re not to go to the bathroom at any time during the three hour ceremony. My poor friend had to pee very badly near the end of the ceremony, and she did not appreciate that we were forced to wait while the choir sang “God Save the Queen” (for ther record, I live in Canada) after all of the 250 diplomas were handed out.


gramma dishes August 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

ali ~~ The ticket allotment is intended to insure adequate seating for all those attending the graduation. There are always X number of seats available and they do not want and can not have people standing in the aisles.

It isn’t big vs. small families. It’s the number of seats available. I have never heard of a single school that does not allow those students needing only two tickets to give their extras to kids needing more. It’s just something they do spontaneously among themselves and is perfectly legitimate and acceptable.

Quite frankly, I’m more amazed by the fact that each graduate at your sister’s school got 10 tickets. Around here, four is more the norm. Sometimes that doesn’t even cover the immediate family — parents and siblings.


JoanneMcCarthy January 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

My family owned a graduation cap & gown company and I cannot stress how important it is NOT to throw your cap in the air. Why? In some cases the mortar board edges are cased in metal to prolong the life of the hat. I’ve seen some bad gashes as a result.


Lola March 7, 2011 at 1:02 am

The horrible family behind us during my brother’s graduation would just not shut up. Even though we agreed that the speaker was incredibly tacky and made her speech all about herself, I wanted even less to hear their inane comments. I just wanted that disgusting, loud group of people behind us to leave, but alas, there were no ushers and there was no room to move elsewhere. And of course, there was much screeching and hollering during their daughter’s turn to get her diploma (which of course continued through the next students’ turns, as well, completely drowning out their names). When my boyfriend turned around and gave them an icy glare, it just drew more nasty comments directed at us. Honestly, I’m surprised their daughter managed to graduate coming from stock like that.


Fae April 21, 2011 at 2:20 am

The quote at my graduation was “It is a cap, not a ninja throwing star”


L.G.Crebar May 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

I have to remark on this subject. I have constant ringing in my right ear because I went to a granddaughters graduation and a woman next to me had one of those air horns used on a boat. I have been to the doctor and he says it’s permanent. All because a woman had to make the biggest and loudest noise. Please please please, schools, do something about this. Start requiring manners. Throw people out when they show bad manners. What has happened that we seem to have to accept bad manners??? Are we going to let those kinds of people rein??? They need to be accountable and realize that they are not the only ones on the planet.


AD March 22, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Please do hold your applause, not just because it can drown out the next name, but also because it’s extremely hurtful to those who may not have relatives or friends to clap for them. For instance:

When my brother graduated, my cousins cheered him, there were airhorns and confetti and the whole ten yards. When I graduated…. silence. Complete, stony, silence. It hurt, badly. Two of my cousins graduated with me and they were applauded.

When I went to the party of one, of course she was being congratulated, and of course I congratulated her too, as I was genuinely happy for her. I mentioned to the math teacher (who we had shared, we grew up closely) that I had graduated, too. Her response: “Oh really? I had no idea.”

Please be mindful of those you can hurt at such ceremonies with over-exuberant celebration.

(Sorry, Dame, I know this one’s late to the party.)


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