Here’s to the cap & gown!
Admit it. Graduation ceremonies WITH caps and gowns are easily a tear-inducing 10!! Graduation ceremonies WITHOUT caps and gowns – oh, maybe a 3 or 4? Just like a cake is to a birthday party, so is the traditional mortarboard to graduation. A moment – a major life milestone – is marked and shared. The student, the parents, family and the community have done well. Mission accomplished. Life, from this point on will be different and everyone knows it.
One of the wonderful aspects of rituals is that they celebrate (and reinforce) important community values. They bring theater and drama, reward and attention, community participation and support into a very special moment. The music, attire, choreography and language are all uniquely associated with the process. Cameras click and flash and parents scurry for the best shot. The images will soon take their place of honor on mantles everywhere.
As students march in together, they are already visually separated from the rest of the community; individuals melt into the group’s identity. They move as one even though, just under those robes, teenage individuality (even rebellion) is impatiently waiting in the wings.
By the time the diploma has been awarded – and the tassel triumphantly moved from right to left – the entire community is ready to celebrate. It truly took a village – overcoming obstacles, dealing with puberty, learning to drive, developing social skills – and, oh yeah, the academic accomplishments.
Perhaps the unmentioned part of the ceremony – the parents’ cap and gown equivalent – is a glass of champagne – or two. An event worthy of celebration.