Graduation Ceremony Order of Service

A homeschool graduation can be unique and quirky, formal and traditional, or anywhere in between! To help you get started, here are a few elements common to many commencement ceremonies.

Pre-Ceremony Slideshow or Musical Performance

The 5-10 minutes before the graduation starts is an opportunity to more fully celebrate your students. A slideshow of your graduate’s senior pictures, accompanied by pre-recorded music, can be enjoyable for your guests. If you have musically-talented graduates, this time could also be used for an instrumental prelude. Whatever you chose, remember that guests will still be taking their seats, getting settled, or conversing. Beginning the a musical prelude without introduction allows the buzz of activity to continue without interruption. With a slideshow, it may be best to begin looping through the pictures before your guests begin to arrive.


Most graduation ceremonies begin with the graduates taking their seats at the front of the room. This is a very formal moment that can feel a little strange if you have only a few graduates. But don’t miss the significance of this moment: the students are approaching the stage in the presence of their family and friends, symbolizing the interdependent nature of their education and the communal aspect of the milestone.

It’s traditional to play the song, “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates process to their seats. Another great option would be a well-known hymn such as “Be Thou My Vision”, “O God Our Help In Ages Past”, or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.

Welcome and Prayer

After the graduates have taken their seats, it’s common to welcome both the graduates and their guests and to begin the ceremony with a prayer of thanksgiving. Traditionally, this would be done by the Master of Ceremonies – typically the head of the school or organization. In a small homeschool group, it could be a parent of one of the graduates; sometimes it’s even a graduate on behalf of the graduating class.

Special Music or Student Speeches

This part of the ceremony will depend on the size of your graduating class. If you have just a few students, you may be able to dedicate a few minutes to each of them for musical performance, student speeches, or parental blessings. With a larger group, it may work better to choose one or two students to perform or speak on behalf of the rest. Some very large statewide organizations ask students to submit audition videos for these spots, while schools usually expect the class valedictorian to speak.

Commencement Address

Here, the keynote speaker addresses the graduates on behalf of their parents, teachers, family and friends. The commencement addresses congratulates the students on their achievements, and exhorts them to live purposefully and fruitfully as stewards of the gifts and privileges they’ve been given.

Keynote speakers at homeschool graduations range from parents to homeschool leaders, pastors or public figures. Whoever you choose, be sure to set clear expectations about content and timeframe – especially if your chosen speaker isn’t already a part of your community.

Presentation of Diplomas

At last, it’s time to present the graduates with their diplomas! This is another moment that can vary greatly depending on the size of your graduating class. We’ve seen many different approaches, including:

  • The president of the homeschool organization presents the diplomas as the students file across the stage
  • Parents and graduate meet in the middle of the stage, where the graduate presents the mother with a rose, and the father presents the diploma to the graduate
  • Parents and Graduate go onstage together, where the parents present the diploma after a short speech

The focus here is on recognizing each student individually, even if only for a brief moment. After the graduate has received their diploma, they return to their seat – possibly pausing with their parents first for a photographer to snap their photo.

Turning of the Tassels

A brief and ceremonial moment after the graduates have all returned to their seats, the turning of the tassels represents the official moment when the students become graduates. The Master of Ceremonies congratulates the students and instructs them to stand and turn their tassels: for High School graduates, the tassel starts on the right side and is moved to the left at this moment. The Emcee may then call on the guests to congratulate the graduates with a round of applause. This may even be with a word of presentation such as, “I present to you the graduating class of 2024!”

Pronouncement and Closing

Possibly in connection with the turning of the tassels (see above), the Master of Ceremonies here presents the seniors to the guests as official graduates. A prayer and/or song helps to bring the ceremony to a close.


The graduates are the first to leave their seats, again representing their “going forth” with the support and encouragement of their family and community. It’s appropriate here to play celebratory music, or for the guests to sing a hymn of exhortation or thanksgiving – such as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”, or even “Rise Up, O Men of God”. 

Invitation to Reception

Finally, the Master of Ceremonies thanks the guests for attending and invites them to stay for the reception, if there is one.

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