How To Have An Extraordinary Graduation Ceremony

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High School Graduation; few moments are as meaningful or memorable. A day to reflect, rejoice and remember. A milestone worthy of a remarkable ceremony.

Here are a few tips to help you make your ceremony extraordinary.


Involve the Graduates

Every graduate has someone in the audience watching, cheering and shedding a tear. Involve more students in the ceremony and share the pride!

Recruit two or three (or more) students to do a commencement speech. Assign each of them a theme to keep it interesting. (You may want to put a 5 or 10 minute time limit on their speech too- for the sanity of the audience)

Speech Themes:

  • 2 speakers – looking back, looking forward
  • 3 speakers – past, present, future
  • 4 or more speakers – memories, dreams, stumbling blocks, successes etc.

Pick a Graduation Theme

Giving your graduation ceremony a theme gives it character, and makes the memories special. Your program will mean so much more with a great theme. You can coordinate your decorations, songs and speeches to correlate.

Graduation Themes:

  • Moving on
  • Looking back
  • Memories
  • Follow your dreams
  • Contributing to the world around you

A Great song can enhance your theme or be the basis of your theme.

Graduation song ideas:


Fill your space with celebratory decorations in festive colors or school colors.


Decoration Ideas:

  • Helium filled balloons in school colors
  • Banners congratulating the graduates
  • Posters or decorations relating to your theme
  • Metallic or Crepe Streamers in your colors
  • Display student projects such as art, photography, woods and metals


Capture The Moment

Even with all those cameras in the audience, it’s difficult at best to capture the exact moment a grad receives their diploma. Why not do those parents a favor and have a photographer present to snap a photo of each graduate in their moment. Better yet recruit a “photography” student or teacher from within the school!


Start a New Graduation Tradition

There is no rule that says you have to follow old traditions. Go crazy and start a new tradition!

New Ideas:

  • Invite a “surprise” guest speaker; a local celebrity, news anchor or alum that’s made it big, even a parent or sibling of a graduate would add an interesting perspective.
  • Gather photos, possibly from yearbook staff, of the students over the years, turn them into a slide show to be displayed throughout the ceremony.
  • Have a wild & wacky finale to your ceremony- possibly one or more select students get to shave a teacher or principals head (think perfect attendance, perfect GPA, or most frequently in detention). Maybe a group of students choreographs a funky line dance and performs it, or perhaps change the words to a popular song and sing it. Get the students involved in planning, they are sure to have some great ideas.


It’s Their Moment

At a recent grad ceremony I attended the entire school district was asked to participate.Teachers that taught the kids from K-12th grade were dressed in gowns and marched in ahead of the graduates. After circling the auditorium, they formed two rows, sort of a tunnel. As the students walked through there were many hugs & high fives. It was very moving. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.


Whatever you do to celebrate and honor your graduates, make it all about them. This is their moment. Make it a wonderful memory for them!


What are your favorite graduation memories or traditions?

One comment

  1. I have really enjoyed this article. I am a teacher and senior class sponsor for a small high school. I am always looking for something unique to do each year to make the ceremony special for each graduating class. This article gave me a few new ideas to work with. Thank you f

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