March 29, 2018
What Makes a Homeschool Graduation 'Truly Meaningful'?
Here at HomeschoolDiploma.com we are always talking about "Making Graduation Truly Meaningful". Why is that so important to us, and what does it actually mean? In this article I'll give some practical suggestions for a meaningful homeschool graduation - but hopefully also communicate a vision for what a homeschool graduation really can be.
A Wedding Example
Have you ever been to a wedding that seemed a little too… generic? Maybe no expense was spared, and everything was 'beautiful'… the bride's dress was lovely (of course), the traditional scriptures were read, an appropriate homily was preached, the dinner was delicious, the DJ played the popular songs. But your left with the feeling that nothing really reflected the uniqueness of the bride & groom. The traditions and customs overshadowed the individuals, and you felt like you were just going through the motions.
But maybe you've also been to a wedding where the unique personalities of the bride & groom, and their unique love for each other and their family & friends, was on full display. A lot of traditional elements were probably still present - beautiful dress, delicious food, etc… but somehow you left with a feeling that you knew the couple better, valued them more as individuals, and were more excited (and probably more hopeful) for their union in marriage.
What's the Difference?
What's the difference between the two scenarios? It would be hard to identify from a checklist; both had many similar elements. But at the 'meaningful' wedding, you felt like you were celebrating the unique value of these individuals, and the love of the community surrounding them. At the 'generic' wedding, you feel like you are really only celebrating… celebration itself.
That's the difference - the generic celebration focuses on tradition for tradition's sake, but the meaningful celebration highlights the unique value and worth of people. The traditions serve a higher purpose - they draw attention to the value, dignity, and intrinsic worth of the individuals and communities involved.
That's the difference - the generic celebration focuses on tradition for tradition's sake, but the meaningful celebration highlights the unique value and worth of people.
A Meaningful Homeschool Graduation
So how do you create a graduation celebration that's "truly meaningful" - that honors the worth of the graduate, dignifies their accomplishment, and celebrates those who've supported them through their journey? How do you utilize traditions and customs, without just going through the motions?
I suppose at this point I could say, "Just buy our stuff!" - because everything we sell is meant to help you have a "truly meaningful" graduation. But it's not just about the stuff. Remember, the wedding examples above had basically the same "stuff", but they were different because they focused on different things. So here are three practical ways you can focus on the right things to create a meaningful graduation celebration:
"No man is an island" - not even we independent, DIY, anti-establishment homeschoolers. We all rely on others for help, maybe even more than our public-schooled counterparts. So when a homeschooler graduates from high school, their accomplishments have usually been aided by the generous help of many, many people.
Take some time to recognize and thank those people. Instead of waiting to send Thank-You cards after the party, encourage your senior to write notes of gratitude and hand them out during the open house. Or if you're having a formal ceremony, ask your grad to take a few minutes to publicly thank specific people for their teaching, counseling, and role-modeling. (We also offer announcement wordings that emphasize this kind of gratitude - see #6 and #16 on this page).
When it comes to graduation, it's a short road to "Brag City". How can you recognize the talents and accomplishments of your graduate, without communicating arrogance or unhealthy pride? Again, gratitude can be a big help here - publicly acknowledge that you couldn't have done it without the help of your community. You may also want to draw attention to God's enabling and provision throughout your journey (our 'Soli Deo Gloria' seal can help here - available on our diplomas and announcements).
Whenever you talk about accomplishments - whether in an invitation, during your ceremony, or at your Senior Display Table - as much as possible, highlight the communal aspect of the success. For example, display a photo of your graduate with their friends who all made it to a national competition - instead of a photo of your graduate by themselves, with their trophy.
This is where homeschoolers really have a great advantage! Whether you're graduating with a group of other homeschoolers or going solo, take the opportunity to focus on the uniqueness of your graduate. This can range from the classic "diapers to diploma" slideshow, to a musical or theatrical performance from the graduate (involve their friends if you can!). Or, give others the opportunity to speak a word of encouragement to your senior as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
A Different Focus
A Homeschool graduation can be such a sweet time of honoring, remembering and rejoicing together. Whether you decide to hold a formal ceremony with a cap & gown, or just host a bonfire with some close friends, don't miss the opportunity to encourage your senior. Keep the focus of the celebration on their unique value as an individual - you won't regret it! And if you need any "stuff" for the event, we may be able to help - we're all about helping people "Make Graduation Truly Meaningful!"
Karl Thompson is the Operations Manager at HomeschoolDiploma.com. A homeschool graduate himself, he enjoys the continuous learning that comes with running a small company. In his spare time (of which there's very little these days!), Karl builds guitars and other fretted instruments. Karl and his wife live in Milton, WI with their two small children. .