Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(My) Homeschool Graduation!

In May of this year, after being homeschooled from preschool to my senior year of high-school, I walked down the aisle in a cap and gown, gave a speech, and recieved my diploma with four of my classmates. It was better than I could have dreamed, and it was such a wonderful way to end all my years of school, giving everything a sense of finality.

Getting to that point was not always the easiest, however. It all started at the beginning of my senior year. Mom kept asking me what I wanted to do for my graduation, and I kept responding with "I don't know..." Finally, as the end of the school year was getting closer and closer, we realized we were going to have to decide on something.

Different options presented themselves: Some homeschoolers go to statewide homeschool graduations. I didn't like that idea because I wouldn't know anyone there and I wanted my graduation to have personal meaning, plus most of the statewide ceremonies were an hour away, so my extended family might have difficulty attending.

Another option we saw was having a senior recital. I actually attended one of these this year, and while it was very good for that girl (she is a very talented musician whose musical education was a big part of her high school) I didn't feel like my music defined me or my years of school. Plus, I hate playing the piano in front of people, so that sounded a bit like a form of torture...

We also saw many homeschoolers just have a ceremony with their immediate family in their livingroom. While, again, this could be a way of going about things, I wanted my graduation to show people that I had recieved as legitimate an education as anyone who attends school, and I didn't feel like my mom handing me a piece of paper rolled up with a ribbon as my siblings sat on our couch and watched was taking it seriously enough.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but I *did* know I didn't want it to feel "fake". I mean, I was really graduating, so I wanted it to feel like a real graduation ceremony. Not something my mom had decided to whip together in our living room. 

About two months before the end of the school year, the leader of our co-op mentioned having a co-op graduation. The second she said it, I knew that was the route I wanted to go. Anyone who knows me probably knows how much co-op meant to me, and graduating with my friends who I had actually done school with and who had helped me through the year sounded like the perfect way to celebrate our educations.

All of our moms arranged a meeting to decide what to do for our graduation. Before the meeting, mom and I looked up graduation ceremonies online. Again, we had a hard time finding good ideas for ours. (Which is why I'm posting this. haha) We wanted it to be personal, yet official. We did not want anything cheesy!

Our meeting went something like this: The girls and moms were discussing color schemes and program order while the boys were napping and making sure we would have food at the reception. Amazingly, despite the suggestion that we go with "hamburger colors" for our graduation robes (Red for ketchup, Green for lettuce, Brown for the burger, Yellow for the bun, Orange for the cheese...) and the mild debate that ensued over whether we should have shiny or matte robes (that was...interesting...) we ended up with a pretty good plan.

We ordered our caps and gowns (and I think our diploma covers as well) from Homeschool Diploma.com. We were all very happy with what we purchased from them. (Well, everyone except Josh whose robe for some reason smelled very strongly. Of course, he decided to remedy this by drenching it in cologne...*choke*.)

 We decided to go with different colored robes for a few reasons. Number one, (the good reason) each of us were technically representing different home schools and different families, so our robe colors were symbolic of our individuality. However, each of our tassels included our color+yellow, so there was unity in that. The other reason is because we couldn't all decide on one color... but let's just pretend that had nothing to do with it. lol

My mom created the diplomas and programs. She did a really great job making them on the "Pages" program on our computer. We got them printed on high quality paper at the office store, and bought diploma covers for each. The parents of each graduate signed the diplomas. They were beautiful!

Our invitations to the event were created by another mom. She also created those on her computer. For each graduate's invitations she changed the color of the "Class of 2013" font to match our robes. She also got them printed on high quality paper. They were very attractive invitations!

The day of the graduation was crazy hectic for us, as the church we had our co-op at had a last minute funeral that literally ended about an hour before we were supposed to start! We were all running around at the last second trying to prepare, to get the fellowship hall set up for after the ceremony, and to get the slideshows and chairs set up in the sanctuary.

Before we walked down the aisle, I was so nervous! I wanted to just drop out right then! But the second Pomp and Circumstance started playing, all my nerves went away, and I really enjoyed everything.

Since we only had five graduates, we were able to have a very personal ceremony. The other two girls who I graduated with both played piano pieces. Janelle (green) played two pieces she had written herself. They were great! Heather (purple) played "River Flows In You".

My mom and I created short picture slideshows of each of us with baby pictures, childhood pictures, and then more recent pictures. After each graduate's slide show would play, our "emcee" (and loved geography co-op teacher) Mr. Z would call that graduate over from the chairs on the right of the stage. They would then walk to the center of the stage, receive their diploma from our co-op director and teacher Mrs. G, and then go to the podium to give a speech. The speeches were beautiful, and truly from each of our hearts.

We were also blessed with prayers and benedictions from two of the dads, a speech from Mrs. G, and a wonderful commencement speech from Mr. Z. At the end of the the ceremony, we all went to the center of the stage, and Mr. Z presented us as the graduates of 2013. We moved our tassels to the other side of our caps, then we walked down to the song "How Can I Keep From Singing" by Chris Tomlin. (Great song... I picked it, and everyone seemed to really like it! The lyrics are awesome.)

Overall I think the ceremony was about an hour long... which was just about perfect. Any longer and it would have been too long, but that felt just about right. Afterward, we had a reception in the church's fellowship hall with some snacks (meatballs!!!) and cake. We also had pictures of each of the graduates (the ones in the first collage) mounted on white scrapbook paper, and our guests were able to sign the paper around the pictures. I absolutely loved looking at all the sweet messages people had written me after the ceremony!

 All in all, it was the perfect graduation ceremony. There is literally nothing I would change about the day!

Well, I take that back... I would have taken more pictures. ;)

I hope this helps anyone thinking of planning a home school graduation. All of those kids who were some of the first home schoolers are now becoming seniors, so a lot of this is blazing new horizons for home school graduates!



  1. Your mom linked this blog at TWTM forums. :)

    I have two seniors this coming school year, so I'm thinking ahead. I really liked your ideas, and I think the array of colors in the gowns is gorgeous!

    Congratulations to you and your friends! ( And to the homeschooling moms for a job well done!)

    Karen in San Antonio, aka "Kinsa"

  2. Great job!
    Congratulations on your graduation.

  3. It still makes me sad that I wasn't able to go!!! I loved how you guys wore different colored robes!! It looked soo cute and colorful! Wish Emmanuel would do that! Lol. Love manda