Millions of high school seniors will be finishing up their final classes, submitting the last of their assignments and taking their end-of-school-year exams this month. Their long journey toward graduation is about to conclude, and they probably won’t get to walk across the stage, shake a bunch of hands or toss their hats into the air with all their classmates. But they do still deserve a celebration—and that, they can still have.
In fact, you—their parents—deserve the celebration, too. Getting a child through 13 years of school, starting with that teary first-day-of-kindergarten drop-off, is a team effort. And it’s worth making a big deal out of it even during a pandemic.
Participate in their school’s celebrations
Some schools are postponing regular graduation ceremonies until later in the summer, with the hopes that such a thing will be possible. Others are going straight to virtual ceremonies at the end of the school year. Check to see what your district’s plans are and make sure the whole family dresses up and attends, just as you would have under normal circumstances—even if it is simply watching a live stream event from your living room.
Dressing up is key because it adds a layer of formality to the day that will make it feel more special; if they’ve got their cap and gown, they should wear it.
Take pictures of them in their cap and gown
You might not get all the pictures you normally would with their arms around their closest friends, but you should at least get some nice portraits of them in their cap and gown. Take them outside for the best lighting and background—maybe even drive up to the high school to get pictures of them next to the school sign or in front of the building. Snap away as they toss their cap in the air. It’s not the same, but these are pictures you—and they—will want to have of this milestone.
Host a drive-by graduation parade
We suggested this for birthday celebrations during the pandemic, and we’ll suggest it again here: “Invite” friends and family to gather (separately in their own vehicles) and drive past your home. They can hold balloons out the car windows, decorate their cars with streamers or just yell and honk a lot as they go by.
Encourage them to connect with their friends
You could host a virtual party with family and friends via Zoom or Google Hangouts, but you should also encourage them to hop on a video chat with just their closest friends at some point on graduation day. The social aspect of celebrating this achievement with their friends is going to be something they will really miss, so a few minutes to connect visually and congratulate each other (or to just say, “holy shit, can you believe it’s finally over??”) is important.
Bust out all the decorations
Now is the time to decorate so much it’s embarrassing. Get streamers, balloons and lawn signs—all in their school colors—and then deck out the inside and outside of the house.
Decorate their car with graduation signs and window chalk markers for a celebratory drive around town (just be careful not to obstruct their view). While you’re at it, use those same chalk markers to decorate the front windows of your home. Set up a festive graduation backdrop for them to sit in front of during the celebratory video chats.
Once you think you’ve done enough, keep right on going. When it comes to decorating and celebrating, more is more right now.
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