Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 3: Graduating a Homeschooler -- Commencement Celebration!

Trailblazers 2012

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid;  do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go."            Joshua 1:9 

Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.          Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are blessed to be part of a local homeschool support group that considers GRADUATION to be a pretty big deal!  This year there were 7 graduating Seniors and we make every effort to give them a custom-designed Graduation Ceremony and Celebration -- much like we all custom-design our homeschools.  The Seniors are very hands-on in the entire celebration.

We held several meetings (even one via teleconference since one of the Seniors couldn't physically be there!) and the Seniors decided to name their graduating class (Trailblazers) and pick a class verse (Joshua 1:9) and motto (Ralph Waldo Emerson quote above).  From this, the celebration plan was born.  They chose class colors of blue and silver and decided they wanted to have the support group logo printed on their diploma covers.  They discussed honor cord recognition and Moms put together an order from American Cap and Gown.  A local photographer and member of the homeschool support group offered to take the official Senior Portrait and Class Picture and we knew this Graduation was really going to take place!  The Seniors even decided how they would decorate for the reception to follow the ceremony -- all in  keeping with their Trailblazers theme.

Each family was responsible for designing and mailing out their own announcements.  There were elaborate invitations sent and simple invitations sent -- each reflecting the personalities of the Seniors represented.  Claire's invitations were three-paneled with several of the pictures from her Senior "photo shoot" and Bible verses that are near and dear to her heart.  For the actual "announcement" portion, we chose this:

"The LORD is with you wherever you go."
We are excited to announce that this part of Claire's journey is complete.
Please join our Graduation Celebration
Sunday, May 5, 2012
2:00 p.m.
New Heights Baptist Church
Summit, Mississippi

Reception to follow.

Scriptures included with her pictures were found in Psalm 90:12, Zephaniah 3:17 and Jeremiah 29:11.

The Prelude and Opening Prayer for Graduation was a video montage of the 7 Graduates to the song The Prayer.  The Processional (Pomp and Circumstance, of course!) was played by two sweet girls on violin and piano.  Following the Welcome by our support group President, the Seniors listened to a Graduate Address presented by a dad in our group who had graduated his first child last year.  It was an anointed word of blessing!

And then came the tears!   At the front of the church, 7 white pillar candles waited for moms and dads.  For the Celebration Ceremony, each family was responsible for putting together a video montage for their Senior to a song of their choosing.  {We chose to use the song "Blink" by Revive.  You can see Claire's video HERE.}   The video played for each Senior and then Mom, Dad and Senior stepped forward.  Mom and Dad lit the corresponding candle for their child then proceeded to the microphone to read a charge to their Graduate and present them with their diploma.  As all Graduates were presented their diplomas, they moved to seats on the stage of the church.

When all of the Diplomas had been presented and Charges given, there was a prayer of dedication and benediction.  The Graduates were presented (and moved their tassels to signify THIS.WAS. IT) and then began the Recessional.  In keeping with the Trailblazers theme, each guest had been presented with a small white candle.  The first notes of the song "This Little Light of Mine" by Addison Road played softly overhead and one by one the Graduates went down and lit their small candle off of the large pillar candle lit earlier by their parents.  Once all Graduates were standing back in front of their parents with lit candles, they lit the candles of their parents who in turn turned and lit the candles of those behind them.  Within minutes the church sanctuary was aglow with candlelight -- house lights off -- and the Graduates filed to the back of the church.  When the song ended, the blew out their candles -- challenging ALL guests to go into the world and shine bright for JESUS -- then did the traditional tossing of the caps!

In the vestibule of the church, each Graduate had a memorabilia display set up that shared a little about them and what they had done with the last 12 years of their lives.  There were pictures, awards, guitars and bows and arrows that gave a little glimpse of the mega-personalities of the Graduates.  Each table also held a Trailblazer Journal for guests to sign and give words of advice.

The Reception was simple and presented an opportunity for visits and fun.  Graduates provided cake and paper products.  Our support group provided punch, sandwiches, chips, dips, sweets and salty snacks.  It was elegant and wonderful and made the Graduation Ceremony enjoyable for all.

It truly was a day of Celebration.  There were several people who came just because they wanted to "see how homeschoolers graduate." They've told me how glad they were to have come -- that it was truly a Worship service as well as a Graduation.  I am reminded again how very blessed we are!


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  1. Wonderful ideas for a meaningful graduation celebration!! Many things are similar to how our group does our commencement, but I got some new ideas too. I'm on the Grad Advisory committee and will have a graduate again next year, so I'm always on the lookout for good ideas.

  2. I'm filing these ideas away for the future. Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a wonderful accomplishment for you and your student.

  4. Sounds beautiful! What wonderful ideas. I hope I can keep them all in my mind for five more years.

  5. It sounds just wonderful and brings back memories of my oldest son's 2009 homeschool graduation. Congrats Mama!!!

  6. What a special day! We're a long time away from graduation (thankfully!) My oldest is only 6. :)


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