When I was a kid, there was (I think) a kindergarten graduation (I don't remember), and then I had one for high school. Now I'm seeing people post on FB about pre-K graduation, kindergarten graduation, junior high graduation, and high school graduation. All I think is "are you kidding me? If you just manage to survive and not drop out by the time you start high school, that's worthy of a big fuss?" I don't get it.
I think we had an open house for my high school graduation, and I went out with my friends for pizza. For college, my family & some friends came in from out of town, and we all went for brunch after the ceremony. The second time I graduated college, I breathed a sigh of relief and skipped even the ceremony. :-)
As for $ for HS graduation gifts, I think for so many people, they want to give the graduate something to help them get the supplies they'll need for college, especially if they'll be going to school away from home, but figuring out what they will need and actually be able to use can be tricky. It depends on the school, what is provided/allowed in the dorms, what their roommate will be bringing, etc. Money or a gift card is just a LOT easier for both giver and recipient.