What a privilege to watch our eldest graduate from high school! It’s a day we’ve long anticipated in our homeschool but it always seemed so far off on the horizon. This past senior year, however, things sped along. I thought I’d share some suggestions, some successes and definitely some homeschool graduation favorites – in case that is where you find yourself this year.
Since my son is now in his senior year, this will also help remind me of all that we did to meet goals, make lasting memories and get that cap, gown and diploma! I will share a more extensive list of homeschool to college steps we made in a follow up post.
My daughter is our very first homeschool graduate and these are the things we did to mark the occasion plus the celebratory events we participated in. It was somewhat of a Hodgepodge graduation – as usual!
Our eldest participated in pretty much all that was possible for a homeschool graduate. Here are a few options for you to consider and to plan for financially. These are listed in the order she participated:
Casual Homeschool Senior Portraits
While we were on family vacation at the beach last summer, I took several photos of our daughter. We planned ahead of time for her to take a dress and a sun hat for a fun photo shoot close to sunset. We also took a few pictures with her keyboard as a prop. The light is simply perfect at sunset! We used a combination of these photos to print copies of a thank you note later in the year.
Then, once we received the cap, tassel and gown in the mail, we made some portraits of our graduate all dressed for graduation. These were taken in a favorite, beautiful family spot. It is always good when the spot you take photos has a special place in your heart!
Sign up with State Homeschool Association for Graduation Ceremony
I have always enjoyed attending our state homeschool association convention – listening to speakers and browsing curriculum. I even represented Tapestry of Grace in a booth there one year. Georgia Home Education Association offers a graduation ceremony for its members. The information was sent out in January of this year. There is a fee to participate and deadlines to meet for turning in information but the ceremony includes all of the following:
- Printed program with bio
- Ceremony held at a local church for up to 50 graduates
- Slideshow of graduates with congratulatory message from parents
- Keynote speaker and Biblical charge to graduates
- Graduates walk across stage with parents, the student bio is read. Dad awards graduate the diploma and graduate gives mom a rose
- Diploma in leatherette case – you specify name of school and signature lines
- Special seating for graduates and parents
- Plenty of seating for up to 12 guests per graduate
- Cake and punch reception afterwards
- Photographer – optional to purchase photos afterwards
First homeschool graduate of the five!
Order Cap, Tassel and Gown
Our state homeschool association suggested Graduation Source for caps, gowns, tassels, honor cords – and we were very pleased. You can also purchase a cap, tassel, gown and diploma from HSLDA. Of course, your graduate gets to pick the color! Our daughter wanted red in the theme of High School Musical 🙂
Formal Senior Portraits
While the casual senior portraits will certainly do, your graduate might want formal cap and gown/senior portraits. We went to a local studio with the purpose of having a sitting with the senior ‘velvet drape.’ We weren’t expecting the whole ‘senior portrait’ sitting but they did take many wonderful photos of her in both her cap and gown, a casual outfit and the classic senior portrait pose. Know before you go that there will be a high pressure sales pitch afterwards. We only bought what we needed and did purchase the digital CD.
Print Graduation Announcements and Thank You Cards
Once we had secured all the photos we might need, I then uploaded the key photos to our local Sams Wholesale Warehouse Club. Our graduate chose both the type of announcement and thank you note she would like printed. These were very affordable. We mailed the announcements in late April to those that were also attending our church graduation party – so as to receive the RSVPs in time. The remainder we mailed in early May.
Church Senior Recognition Sunday
This may be my favorite! Our church has a Senior Recognition Sunday every year. Parents submit both a baby photo and a cap and gown or senior photo of their graduate. Families arrive early for photos on the front steps of the church. (A photo of the graduating class is framed and hung in our Christian Life Center).
Early in the service the seniors process into the sanctuary with the traditional Pomp and Circumstance. Then each senior goes up to the podium and introduces him/herself. They also introduce their parents and share what their plans are for after graduation. The baby photo and senior photo are displayed on the screen above as the senior is on stage. The church bulletin also includes photos of all the graduates.
Church Senior Dinner
The evening of the Senior Recognition in the church service, our youth pastor hosts a special dinner for seniors and their families. This a fun and reflective time as parents exhort their child and share about some funny memories. Our youth pastor also said something special about each senior. It was a time of blessing! Prior to the dinner, parents write a special letter to their graduate and present it at or after the dinner.
Church Senior Graduation Party
The next weekend, all the families with seniors held a graduation party in the gym of the church. This was a wonderful way to invite church members, family, friends and all of those special to the graduate for a time of celebration. Plus the families could share the cost of the catering and decorations. Each family had a photo enlarged of their graduate and we all hung them on the wall for decoration. Each senior also decorated a table with favorite mementos, awards and photos. We added a blank photo mat for family and friends to sign.
Informal Home Graduation Party
Our daughter had just a few friends over to hang out and celebrate at home. We got a cookie cake and some snacks. Very casual and fun!
State Homeschool Association Graduation Ceremony
I’ve already mentioned this, above, but I highly recommend doing a graduation ceremony with your state homeschool association. This marks a very special occasion – one you will all look back on. This was our last celebratory, Christ centered, encouraging time, the first weekend of June. So all the celebrating went on for nearly a month! And why not?
Happy homeschool graduation!
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4
Thank you, this was very helpful and I will bookmark it! My daughter is ‘only’ going into 6th grade, yet I remember when it was ‘only’ 1st. She will be our first graduate as well in what feels like just a few years from now!
Yes, yes! That is a good mindset to have. It indeed goes very fast and you are wise to keep it all on the radar.
Thanks for the great post. We had just moved to a new area a few months before my 2 oldest graduated and their graduation consisted of inviting youth from church over for a graduation party and awarding them a diploma in front of their new friends. It would be nice for our next graduate to plan ahead on how to make the whole year and graduation a special event.
I love that idea of a small gathering of close church friends for awarding the diploma and a party! I know it was a special time! Since we are homeschoolers I know that how we celebrate graduation will be as unique as how we homeschool. And that is definitely the beauty of it. The events with our church family were the most meaningful – definitely! I am grateful for a church that recognizes graduating seniors and marks the important milestone. And I do know that this next year will likely be a little different. My son will likely only participate in a few of the graduation celebrations simply because that is his personality.
Diana Rambles says
I really enjoyed this post. We pulled out son out of school earlier this year due to a very difficult social situation. I know it’s the best choice for him, but I’ve been sad to miss out on those traditions that we enjoyed with our oldest child. I am glad to know there are options out there for homeschoolers. I did plan on doing informal senior photos and having a small party, but I will see if there is anything local or regionally that will allow us to participate in a ceremony.
Oh I am happy to hear that your transition is going well! Yes, it is a very busy time for a homeschool senior as well. My son is now a senior this year. He is choosing a more laid back approach to it all but we are still participating in many of these opportunities. I think it is so very important to celebrate such a big milestone. Yes, do check your with your state homeschool convention. Best wishes for you and your son!