Graduation is a life-defining day of celebration and reflection. If you’re planning a graduation ceremony for a small school, you can take risks and have more fun. Below, we’ve outlined five graduation ceremony ideas that you can try. Each idea works well with a smaller student body, so graduates feel more connected to the community.
First, it’s important to remember that commencement is about the students. You may be tempted to pad the ceremony with faculty speeches and donation pitches. Don’t – it will detract from the celebration! Instead, recruit a few talented students to share their hopes and dreams. Ask a few students to tell personal stories about their school experience. Meanwhile, spend some extra money to mail personalized invitations. You want to keep family members in the loop, so that attendance is strong.
As you focus on the commencement venue layout and decor, try to foster a welcoming space that reflects the local community and student body. For example, some high schools start their ceremony with every local K-12 teacher entering the auditorium, and then forming a path for the graduating class to walk through. Meanwhile, other schools have unique themes, traditions, and parades that make the students feel like it’s their graduation.
Graduation ceremony ideas don’t need to be expensive or unwieldy to make a huge impact on students’ lives. A new tradition can be as simple as asking parents to write their graduates a thoughtful letter (and vice versa), and then trading the letters on graduation day. Use your imagination to create a new and unforgettable tradition.
With smart planning and coordination, your school can give some incredible gifts during the graduation ceremony program. For example, teachers can record a short clip of each student’s voice at the beginning of every school year, practicing a subject like English and math. Then, they can compile the clips into a longer audio tribute, which shows the student’s growth over four, eight, or twelve years.
Finally, if you’re planning an elementary or middle school graduation in a small town, you can invite alumni to come celebrate the graduates’ achievement. Perhaps a successful former graduate can give a quick speech, and elder classmen can cheer students on from the sidelines as they receive their diplomas.
We hope your graduation ceremony goes off without a hitch. In the meantime, check out our resource section for even more ceremony planning tips!