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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #60 on: July 25, 2013, 05:22:03 PM »
I just had the "privilege" (quotes intentional) of attending my son's "graduation" from eighth grade a month ago.  I was appalled at the spectacle.  Long gowns on the girls, tuxedos on many of the boys, limousines sweeping up to the door--I couldn't believe my eyes.  What are we going to give these kids for graduating from high school or university to top this?  (Let's not even think about future wedding expectations!) It was insane, particularly in view of the fact that in my province it is impossible for a child not to "graduate" from grade eight--all he/she needs is a pulse; no other achievements are necessary. 

That being said, it wasn't up to me to tell my son that he wasn't allowed to go.  His views on dressing up match his father's (who will basically only wear a suit at gunpoint!) so I didn't have to worry about him begging me to rent him a tux, but I figured it was his decision to attend or not.  For the record, he changed his mind several times in the weeks before because he didn't want to be the only boy there without a "date", but on the actual day he said he would go.   I drove him there, stood by the back door for the ceremony (crowd anxiety issues) and went home, sending his father to pick him up from the dance later.

The whole overblown thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and if this is becoming typical, I believe that it needs to be addressed.  Forcing one's child to boycott the ceremony, however, is not the answer and it punishes the child.  I wish that there was an easy answer.  I'm just glad that I'm done with it.

Wait, they had the graduation ceremony and 8th grade dance combined? I've never heard of this.  At my kid's 8th grade dance, limo's were forbidden by the school. They used the excuse that the limos didn't have proper place to turn around and were causing traffic jams. It was really because too many 14 year olds were showing up to the 8th grade dance drunk.

I'll admit to thinking the elaborate 8th grade dance my kid's attended were overblown. Mom's working non-stop for months and elaborate decorations and activities that most HS Prom's don't have.

We sort of did this when I was in 8th grade, about 20 years ago.  The ceremony was called "Promotion", not "Graduation", and it was special in part because we were now moving on to high school.  We were going from the "just take whatever classes they give you" to actively choosing our own classes, and starting to chart our paths for college and/or a job.  It really did, and does, seem like a significant milestone to me.

However, as I have said, it was not called a "graduation".  It was a "promotion", with the emphasis on the fact that we should be proud of ourselves because we had earned the right to now go on to high school and start that process of running our own lives. 

And we had a dance afterward, but not with tuxes and limos! Most of the guys wore dress pants, a button down shirt, and a tie.  The girls wore somewhat fancy dresses-like maybe a step up from what are considered "church clothes" in the traditional sense, but nowhere close to prom type dresses.  Kind of like a lot of bridesmaid dresses nowadays but they were never floor length, they were tea length at the max.  And that was fun for many reasons, including the fact that it was like a "practice prom", "prom for beginners", something like that.  A first try at fun and formality without all the pressure (very few people had dates, for example).  We got a little taste of prom so we had something to look forward to.

And we didn't use caps and gowns.  We walked into the ceremony with "Pomp and Circumstance" but in the fancy clothes we had on for the dance.  And there was no valedictorian, but a lot of various awards given out.  We didn't get diplomas, but we got "certificates of promotion", handed out diploma-style.

I do understand, though, that such things would be hard to keep in check these days-you'd have too many people going too far with tuxes and limos and such.  And this is sad, because I enjoyed my promotion ceremony very much.  And it was good practice for high school and college graduations, prom, etc.

And as for the mom in the OP, I think it really depends on her child's opinion.  To force or bribe or shame him into not attending the ceremony, whatever it is, I think is over the top.  If he doesn't want to go, she can surely support his choice, but if he does, I think that keeping him out of it would very much damage their relationship and if I were her, though I agree with her opinion that these things are getting over the top, I would just suck it up and go with what made my kid happy.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #61 on: July 25, 2013, 05:28:48 PM »
We had a not-really-graduation at the end of sixth grade. Not dressy at all; we wore "Class of '87" shirts they had made with signatures from all our year's students, and there were awards and such. Obviously we knew this was not the great accomplishment of our lives and that there was a lot of school ahead, but it was a nice little gesture of closure as we got ready to go off to a whole other school where we would be smaller fish in a bigger pond, and in some cases, go to a completely different school than others in our class. At the end of high school, we had a pretty normal commencement with caps and gowns and Pomp and Circumstance. Eighth grade, nothing. I kind of wish there'd been a ceremony for 8th grade. That school was only for 2 years but was an intense trip through Bullyland. I wanted some kind of medal for surviving!  ;D But it was just, it's the last day, now go home. I see nothing wrong with marking the end of 8th grade with a ceremony, and I don't think it's teaching anything spurious to Kids These Days.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #62 on: July 25, 2013, 06:00:15 PM »
I don't see her as SS..she is making a parenting choice for her DD only, based on her feelings.  Right or wrong, it is her decision.  My DD had a semi formal dance and an awards ceremony for 8th grade.  Only kindergarten and seniors get graduations, and the kindergarten one is more a show the kids put on for the parents (150 kindergarteners singing I love You a Bushel and a Peck?  Awesome!) with no cap & gowns, but they do get certificates of completion.  The mom may change her mind as the time comes and is just speaking now out of her distaste for the overabundance of graduations. 


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #63 on: July 25, 2013, 06:13:17 PM »
She has no problems with end-of-year award ceremonies or parties but she doesn't agree with the trend of 'graduation' that seems to be popping up at so many different grade levels. 

Is Anna being a special snowflake if she discretely doesn't permit her child to participate?

That "trend" started a long, long time ago. I had an eighth grade graduation ceremony in 1978.

I don't think Anna is being an SS, but like others have pointed out, keeping her daughter out of the ceremony is likely to make things awkward. Most kids that age aren't really thrilled about being the odd person out. Unless participating in the ceremony calls for a large expenditure of money or something, I would just let her participate even though I think it's on the silly side.
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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #64 on: July 25, 2013, 06:34:45 PM »
I was born in 1947 and we had a Kindergarten 'Graduation' in 1952.  My mother made the pink and blue yarn tassels for the oaktag mortarboards we wore.  The kids wore Sunday best, the rhythm band played  and parents took lots of adorable pictures. 

I was 'cheated' out of an 8th grade Graduation when my elementary school merged the 8th grade into the high school that year. My parents still had a nice family party. At least they had my Confirmation pictures from the year before.  (White choir robe, red collar and red beanie). 

These rites of passage are fine, in my view. Wearing a cheap cap and gown, listening to a speech or two from a local politician and getting a bunch of flowers before going home to burgers and salads in the back yard is one thing.  Limos and tuxedos is something very different. 

It isn't the commencement itself that's the problem,  it's the brouhaha that gets attached to it by parents who want to show off that spoil things. 


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #65 on: July 25, 2013, 06:44:25 PM »
As others have said, eighth grade graduation, and kindergarten graduation, etc., are hardly new experiences.  I had both, with a cardboard "cap" at kinder and very inexpensive cap and gown for eighth.  I've had lots of graduations since then, and still eighth grade is a special memory. It was a transition from my small k-8 school to a high school with a much larger class and most of my 8th grade classmates went elsewhere.

I think Anna is entirely within her rights to make the decision she prefers for her child and her family.  I do think she should be careful to keep her opinion about the validity or use of eighth grade graduation private, though, and I certainly would not encourage her to bring this to the school as a problem to address.  A public school is serving a very broad population, and I would venture to guess that for some of those students, completing eighth grade does indeed represent a lot of hard work and a significant achievement.  While many Americans may take high school completion for granted, for some students it does not happen. Also, as a PP pointed out, in some families an eighth grade graduation is a significant family achievement, as previous generations did not have access to that level of education.  If Anna expects more for her children, that is fine, but if she were my friend I might gently remind her to let others enjoy their chosen moments in the sun.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #66 on: July 25, 2013, 09:08:38 PM »
Curious, I am glad you said that. I thought I was an oddity because I look back on my 8th grade graduation ceremony with very fond memories. We were a small school, only 125 students in my class with most of us having started 1st grade together. Our 8th grade graduaction was less of an acknowledgement of our academic accomplishments and more of an acknowlegement of a transition to a new point in our lives. We were moving to a time in our lives that both our parents and our school was allowing more independence, freedom, and self direction. While the few of us who were honor students or campus leaders were acknowledged during the ceremony, it was about all of us.

And I think what was so key for me, was that it was ALL of us. It wasn't associated with our religion or other outside influences. It was our entire class. It was the time in our young lives that we were acknowleged as transitioning for kids to young men and women. Maybe the small town environment enhanced that feeling, but I still remember it and embrace that since of enjoyment from that day. (and we all played hooky from school the rest of the day and went to the local lake and swam till our parents came and got us... our first taste of rebellion.)

And while we didn't wear caps and gowns, we did wear nice dresses and the boys had suits or sports jackets (1979). While I think the Cap and Gown is a little overboard for an 8th grade graduation, the school may actual see it as a cheaper alternative for the kids to be dressed more uniform. I'm sure there is a large segment of most 8th grade classes where the boys don't have dress pants, shirts or ties, let alone jackets or suits. And as a mom of a 16 yr old boy who's had to have these at least once every year since he was 10, it becomes an expensive outfit for him to wear once or twice before he outgrows it.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #67 on: July 25, 2013, 09:47:44 PM »
I'm not against transitional celebrations.  There was no ceremony of any type for DS1 so we hosted a sleep over party for 6 of his friends.  I cooked a huge brisket, baked potatoes, and lots of other "manly" food.  They swam and then camped out in the back yard.  With only one high school in the city they were going to be seeing each other during the summer and very soon at school.  It was an appropriate celebration for them.

DS2 attended a K-8 Catholic school.  There was an honors program for awards for 2nd-5th and 6th-8th grades on one day, but different award ceremonies.  For the ending year ceremony there was a Mass of celebration and a cake and punch party afterwards.  The kids simply wore "nice clothes."  (I cannot say church clothes as most of our youth wear jeans and tshrits at church.) 

No diplomas, no tuxes, no caps and gowns, no speechifying a valedictorian.  Not having a full blown out graduation ceremony doesn't mean there there can be no transitional celebration.  IMO instead of focusing on MY dress or MY limo it's a rite of passage for the grade to celebrate together.

I don't think that anyone here is against any kind of transitional celebrations.

For Grade 5 (going into middle-school here) it was a pizza/pop lunch paid for by the PTA, with some funny remembrances from the primary-grade teachers.  For Grade 8 (going into high school) it was a potluck dinner from the parents, and the celebration was a slide-show with a couple of short speeches from teachers, and a brief dance (about 45 minutes, I think).  No ball-gowns or tuxes - the girls wore sundresses and the boys wore nice pants and shirts.  The school administration emphasized that it was  "school leaving ceremony" as opposed to a graduation, and anything like limos and fancy dress would be quickly curtailed.

I've heard of some schools where grade 7 or 8 "graduation" is indeed a ballgown, banquet and tux occasion.  The parents kind of sigh and say "well, we don't like it but what can you do?"  I'd say that they could do a lot!  They can notify Administration that a large number of parents want to stop this insanity.

ETA:  IME the vast majority of the students were heading to the same high school.  If it had been a situation where they'd be "splitting" to some extent, then perhaps a different ceremony might have been somewhat appropriate.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2013, 09:50:51 PM by kareng57 »


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #68 on: July 25, 2013, 10:43:51 PM »
Limos and tuxes? Wow!
They had to be strictly forbidden at my 8th grade dance - and tea length dress were also the rule and enforce. There was an exception for Limos if it "was your normal transportation to and from school"- that only applied to a couple of people.

I was scandalously picked up by an older High School student. Something happened and my parents couldn't pick me up, and I couldn't get a ride with friends (I think they both were able to talk their parents out of forcing them to go). So Rob's mother volunteered him to pick me up. He was a geek like me and knew I really didn't want to go. So he picked me up early, and we went to Pappy's for hamburgers to kill time. Mom and Dad found out - but since leaving early meant I didn't get caught up in the fight that erupted shortly after I left - they didn't get mad.

By the time sis was in 8th grade "Limo Parties" were the thing. Hey girls only limo parties were an improvement over co-ed "rent a night club for you 14 - 17 yo kid's birthday and leave the kids unattended so they can break into the night clubs alcohol and get alcohol poisoning parties" Sis was NOT allowed to go to the rent a night club parties. She was only allowed to go to the limo parties if certain parents were involved. [size=78%]There were companies with teen limos that did not stock alcohol.[/size][/size][size=78%] I n[/size][/size][size=78%]ever got why driving around Houston and getting your pictures taken at Transco tower waterfall was cool. But I never got cruising Westheimer and Montrose either. [/size]
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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #69 on: July 25, 2013, 11:01:55 PM »
I can see Anna's POV, and agree with it. I didn't have any kind of 8th grade graduation or promotion ceremony and I didn't miss it. My parents didn't do anything to commemorate the transition to HS either. It was a given that I would continue to graduation and then go off to college. My mother wouldn't have celebrated my successful completion of 8th grade any more than she would throw a party for passing a math test or cleaning the kitchen. It was simply expected that I would do so. Once 8th grade was a significant achievement, and it may have marked the end of one's schooling. I don't know anyone in my life who has not passed 8th grade, and as far as I know, the earliest one can drop out of school (in my state) is at age 16 or Sophomore year of HS.

DS had a preschool graduation a couple of months ago, which was cute, but also annoyed me. Over half of his class didn't make the birthday cut off, so they will be back in preschool in the fall. They graduated from preschool year 1 to preschool year 2 I guess  :-\
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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #70 on: July 25, 2013, 11:27:57 PM »
If someone told me they wouldn't let their child participate in 8th grade graduation because, basically, there are too many graduations - I would likely think they are a bit humorless.  But that's a private thought in my head, and not something I would say to someone.  They certainly wouldn't be a special snowflake.  Although I guess maybe there could be a whiff of "hey look we are too good for this silly business" about it, but it doesn't sound like Anna's plan is to accost various other parents to have in depth discussions about it. 

Sure, it's a bit goofy, but if my kids have one, I'll be there clapping away.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #71 on: July 26, 2013, 02:48:02 AM »
One of my bosses recently took the morning off to attend his daughter's, and this was at a school where high school graduation is expected.  However, it occurs to me that high school graduation isn't a foregone conclusion everywhere.  That could be why it's more than dresses and slacks now.


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #72 on: July 27, 2013, 08:34:19 AM »
It seems that the higher the degree, the less ballyhoo is attached to it.  We know people who were granted PhDs and attended the ceremony only so they could get a picture of themselves in the velvet-trimmed robes.   

About ten years ago there was a rash of kerfuffles at Middle School Commencements.  Parents brought far too many relatives.  There was no room in the hall for everyone and fist fights broke out at the entrance.  Some people were trampled and arrests were made. Several of these events made the local news.   

I felt sorry for the kids.  What should have been a happy day quickly turned sour when Uncle Jim was run in for assault and battery. 


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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #73 on: July 27, 2013, 08:49:56 AM »

High school graduation might not be a foregone conclusion, but that doesn't, to me, make it right for 8th graders to wear caps and gowns.

The cap and gown have a specific meaning--they are an indication that the wearer has earned a certain degree. Technically, even high school graduates shouldn't be wearing them, and if they do wear them, they shouldn't be "turning the tassel."

The cap and gown that are worn at high school and college graduations in the US are derived from the medieval dress of scholars at Oxford and Cambridge. The cap and gown signify that the wearer has earned an undergraduate degree. Some schools allow or require students who are in the process of earning an undergraduate degree to wear the gown, but not the cap.

There are different gowns for those who have earned a Master's degree or Doctorate degree--the style of the gown and sleeves and trim is different, to signify the level of the degree.

It is a stretch to allow Bachelor's gowns at high school graduations, but this custom is so entrenched in US culture that there's probably no way to stop it now. But the turning of the tassel, from the right to left side of the mortarboard, should only be done when an actual degree is earned, not when graduating from high school with a diploma. Again, there's probably no way to stop this from occurring at high school graduations.

But knowing the history and meaning of the cap and gown, to me it just seems odd to have 8th graders wearing them. They are very far from earning a Bachelor's degree at this point.

By all means, have a leaving taking ceremony or a promotion ceremony and let the kids dress up in their Sunday best. Give recognition to those students who have done well in academics or extra-curricular activities. Have a party. Have a dance.

Just don't call it graduation and have the children wearing symbols that signify an achievement they haven't even started working towards yet.
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Re: "Graduation" Participation
« Reply #74 on: July 27, 2013, 08:54:09 AM »
Limos and tuxes? Wow!

Wow.  There weren't any limos or tuxes at my high school graduation, and I attended a ritzy, snobbish, suburban high school...

At my high school, I recall several pre-graduation lectures about appropriate under-gown graduation attire, because if not forced otherwise, most of the student body would turn up in jeans and t-shirts. The school made it very clear that slacks and blouses or dresses were expected for girls, and dress pants and button-down shirts for boys. They checked what we were wearing before the ceremony. There was plenty of grumbling about being forced into that level of formality, I can't imagine anyone in my graduating class voluntarily wearing a tux or gown!

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