Seniors Deserve a Worthy Sendoff

Why high school graduation ceremonies matter


James Mulkern

Seniors at Abington High School receive free Class of 2021 T-shirts during the early weeks of April 2021. Like the Class of 2020, this class has lost a lot of their senior traditions.

The class of 2021 is less than two months away from completing high school and kickstarting their careers. They will be the second class to graduate after being subjected to months of social and learning restrictions, courtesy of COVID-19.

Although no recent news has been published regarding the graduation ceremony, last week saw Abington High finally return to a full in-person learning schedule after over a year of sluggish, disconnected hybrid and remote learning.

Now that the school has achieved some degree of normalcy, the idea of a safe and honoring senior sendoff can be entertained.

The school’s staff and administration, even under compromising circumstances, have worked to honor the accomplishments of their new alumni in the past. Last summer, the class of 2020 participated in a parade in which they drove their decorated cars down Gliniewicz Way, dressed in their graduation robes and mortarboards.

The Class of 2020 later had an outdoor graduation ceremony on August 8. The pandemic had altered these traditional senior activities, but did not cancel them.

These senior traditions should never be broken. High school graduation serves as a milestone day for students, an event more significant than any academic “graduation” they may have attended before.

In retrospect, the preschool ceremony was more about the accomplishments of the parents than those of the children.

— James Mulkern

Senior graduation ceremony is what students have worked towards for twelve years. It is a rite of passage into an unpredictable, yet exciting adult life.

A graduation ceremony is also an electrifying community event in which students celebrate the bonds they have built with their classmates and teachers who have shaped who they are and helped them decide the paths they will take.

Graduation reminds students that they are not just leaving with a diploma, but with feelings of accomplishment and closure, and a wealth of precious, lifelong memories. It is that sense of closure that validates all of the time and effort students invested into their academic life, especially during high school.

As for graduation ceremonies that take place before senior year, students vaguely remember when they passed preschool and attended the ceremony signifying their transition to kindergarten. They were too young to know how primary and secondary education works, so they had nothing to be excited for. Thus, the celebration meant hardly anything.

Plus, passing preschool is not an impressive feat. What good is a graduation ceremony if all the children did to get there was obey their teacher?

High schoolers, by comparison, are far more capable of independently reaching goals that are worth celebrating. In retrospect, the preschool ceremony was more about the accomplishments of the parents than those of the children.

The same is true for middle school. When I completed 8th grade at the Frolio Middle School, I was recognized for maintaining honor roll grades throughout the year. I felt proud of myself afterwards. Still, the middle school graduation itself was not very substantial. Little was demanded to get there.

How important is a high school graduation ceremony?

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High school demands students face their unproductive habits and self-doubts. In my own case, I was inspired to be more proactive, planning what I would do each day of each week. By struggling with class participation, I realized that I could still find ways to improve my craft.

But most importantly, I realized the ways I learned and worked best. Since most of my planning consisted of writing, I started preparing for a career in the field of journalism. In short, I learned more about myself in the past four years than ever before.

The time students spend in high school is much more impactful than middle school or earlier. And for that reason, graduating high school is worth celebrating the most.

Even if COVID-19 has sucked the fun out of being a senior, the class of 2021 should receive a graduation ceremony worth cherishing,