In this handy guide, we’ve shared a high school graduation ceremony checklist to ensure that your program is planned to the letter. A successful commencement is 95% planning, from the event scheduling to the ticket distribution. When you’ve thought of everything beforehand, you’ll have fewer curveballs on the big day. Let’s walk through the planning process step by step:
First, it’s crucial to check in with prospective speakers as early as possible. Once they’ve confirmed, ask for the final speech so that you can approve the content. This is an especially important step when dealing with student speakers. As students are more likely to use inappropriate humor or divisive topics in their speeches.
Next, draft an agenda for the ceremony program, start with a list of the main events. Then, design a printed program with photos, inspiring quotes, honors recipients, and graduating students’ names. Inside this program, you can block out the timeline for the entire ceremony. Make sure to spend time designing a memorable program, because students and parents will be saving it as a souvenir.
In the weeks leading up to graduation, students will start receiving their official regalia. Your team should triple-check that every order has been processed, shipped, and received. More importantly, they should confirm that diplomas and awards arrive at school with plenty of time to spare.
Typically, high school graduation ceremonies take place on a sports field or inside a large auditorium. However, if you’re holding the ceremony off campus, you need to review the venue guidelines to ensure that all rules are followed. If you’re renting the stage, chairs, and PA system, you need to confirm the payment and time of delivery. Meanwhile, any in-house tech equipment should be tested well before it’s needed.
Selling tickets can be stressful. To avoid any logistical issues, we recommend setting a maximum number of tickets for each student. Tickets can be sold online and linked to the student’s name. This way, physical ticket sales are avoided entirely and you can email tickets to students and families on a specific date.
As you may have guessed, you won’t be able to plan an entire high school graduation alone. We recommend delegating big tasks (i.e. tickets, venue setup) to trusted faculty and volunteers, so that you aren’t overwhelmed with last-minute issues.
After the ceremony, ask the same volunteers to help clean the venue and return any rented equipment. If you need to take photos and greet guests at the reception, you may need to assign a point person to coordinate the cleanup process until you arrive. With a few helping hands, you’ll tear down the venue in no time at all. Remember to thank everyone and celebrate your achievement (perhaps with cake?).
At GraduationSource, we want the planning process to be easy. Click here to download the Essential Graduation Survival Guide for free, which includes 82 tips for a successful ceremony. If you implement these tips in your high school graduation planning checklist, you’ll be ready for anything.