COVID-19 has proven to be the ultimate disrupter; most evidenced in the education sector and the lives of graduating high school seniors.
With the absence of the regular school system and the cloud of uncertainty hovering over what happens next, families are celebrating their seniors in unique and fabulous ways.
Graduations and Family: Celebrating Milestones
In appreciating the significance of this period, one has to understand what the milestone represents to families and the corresponding memories that are made and shared.
Graduating high school is a rite of passage. The defining moment when a child officially transitions from high school to college, teenager to adult.
A little bit of nostalgia and reflection is necessary as a graduation or other type of lifetime milestone nears.
Graduations in themselves are ceremonies to honor the culmination of one period and the beginning of the next.
To graduate from something without looking back on the years leading up to that point would be a disservice to oneself.
Understanding what it took to get to a point is critical to being able to move on from it.
And families are an intricate part of that.
Nurturing teens through their most vulnerable periods and being sounding boards as they experience and learn life lessons.
Providing both emotional and financial support over the years, they now also share in the pride of the moment.
Not being able revel in this period of their lives robs both the senior and family of the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice.
So, without being able to have official graduation ceremonies and senior activities, how are families celebrating their seniors?
Celebrating the Senior Class
The main significance of the graduating period is an opportunity to reminisce and chart the journey to the present success.
The senior year being the most important, is the capstone period.
What happened during the year and how can it be documents?
The experiences, the failures, the triumphs are all being showcased as Senior Doors are popping up over the country.
Families are celebrating seniors by choosing a door to enshrine with memories. Whether it’s drill team, sporting events, or the Mathletes, families are going all the way.
Using pictures, medals, fan gear, and any school spirit gear.
It’s a full display of school spirit and celebration of accomplishments
A graduating senior lives here!
Proud families are adorning their yards announcing to everyone passing by that a senior lives there.
Graduating high school is as much a community event as it is a family one.
By using the yard signs, families celebrate their seniors and include the “village” that helped raise them, while observing proper social distancing.
To add to the pomp and circumstances, families take pictures of seniors beside their yard signs. It’s all part of the experience of creating memories.
Even administrators are getting into the act, according to this article in the New York Times.
A principal at Wylie High School in Wylie, Texas, visited “each of the 612 seniors at their homes,” driving 800 miles to tell them how special they are and delivering a note and a candy bar.
Cap and gown school drive-by
In this instance, families are celebrating their seniors by collaborating with the schools for what may amount to the last hurrah.
While practicing social distancing, seniors visit the school by schedule, sometimes dressed in cap and gown or even prom wear to do a final walk through and empty lockers.
While it can be poignant, family members sometimes tag along snapping candid pictures of their seniors at different spots in the school. It’s not the real deal, but it’s a memory, nevertheless.
Here, a principal visits students to celebrate them and deliver their lawn signs.
Online graduation parties
In the era of technology, the hippest event during the quarantine is the online graduation party.
Whether it be a Zoom gathering with close family and friends, or a more elaborate Instagram live complete with a guest DJ, families are celebrating their seniors’ success and pulling out all stops.
This trend seems to be gathering steam as not only is it a novel idea, it lends itself to the youthful love of online activity and setting trends.
Social media is alive and well during this pandemic, and what better opportunity to showcase various platforms, then to host myriad events on them?
Many of the rich and famous who have given commencement speeches to live audiences in the past are now taking it to the masses: Oprah Winfrey will be hosting “#Graduation2020 Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020.”
Even sports figures like LeBron James are doing their part to fete the seniors of 2020. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the basketball legend will be joined by a number of celebrities for “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.”
Some families are celebrating their seniors by providing opportunities for sometimes elaborate video productions of their graduating stories.
Following a preset theme, some seniors are producing high-quality documentary-style stories of their senior year and culminating activities.
These extravaganzas are complete with interviews of school faculty, family members, and even surprise shout outs from celebrities.
The idea is that the whole experience is new, and families are extending themselves to make up for the loss of tradition.
What is the Impact?
Almost every experience during the pandemic is brand new and being able to accurately judge impact in real time is almost impossible.
But the intention of families celebrating their seniors is not to achieve quantitative results.
It’s an emotional bonding experience. A sharing of milestones and creating memories.
A concerted effort to quell some disappointment and make an otherwise traumatic period shine with the intended glow of success and achievement.
These experiences will be like none before them, and possible none after them, and that’s what will make them even more special.
CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS FIGURING OUT
HOW TO PAY FOR COLLEGE
JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP