Cancelled High School Graduations and How we can Honor Graduates

May 25, 2020

Cancelled High School Graduations and How we can Honor Graduates

Graduating from high school isn’t just about getting the diploma. Graduating is a right of passage. It’s a pathway to adulthood for many students, which begins at the graduation ceremony. Across this country, thousands of students won’t have this experience. I empathize with them as I know how meaningful it is to participate in a graduation ceremony, and how long students have looked forward to this moment now cancelled. 


As a high school teacher, one of our greatest moments is seeing our students graduate. No matter how challenging the school year is, all of that stress seems to vanish on graduation day. And, as a teacher at an alternative school, I know firsthand just how difficult it can be for some students to walk across that stage. So, when they finally do, the feeling of joy (and sometimes relief) fills your heart. 


This year, 2020, would’ve been my eighth graduation with my school. Back in March, when speculation was made that graduation might be cancelled, I think students/families and school staff held out hope that ceremonies might still take place. Unfortunately, we now know that that won’t happen. However, there are ways in which you can honor graduates. I’ve listed some ideas below.



  • Submit their accomplishments to the local TV station or Radio station
  • Organize a parade
  • Have a ceremony at home with family
  • Dress up to make the ceremony feel real
  • Prepare statements about the graduate 
  • Have an M.C. (or the graduate themself)
  • Stream ceremony for those who can’t attend
  • Ask the student how you can honor them
  • Have a drive-up option house
  • Have a staggered social distancing open house 
  • Have food “to-go” for people who drop off gifts or attend staggered open house
  • Send an announcement of some sort about modified celebration