Celebrating graduation in time of COVID?
April 22, 2020 10:03 AM   Subscribe

How are you planning to observe/celebrate graduation during lock-down? My son is a high school senior, and we just can't let this event go un-marked -- but the school has cancelled the big, in-person event. I would love some ideas of what we can do to celebrate this.

His big sister got a backyard party when she finished high school, but that's not possible. We can maybe do a "Zoom open house" on a big computer monitor, and have our own cookout.

What about inviting family to picnic at the edge of the yard, in well-spaced groups? Or to visit on a staggered schedule?

What are you all doing for graduations, or any other event?
posted by wenestvedt to Human Relations (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Inviting people might be fraught. Other friends with high school seniors have had drive-by parties to cheer for the graduate, and some schools (or parents' groups) have made big posters/signs to put on seniors' yards to give them a sense of recognition.
posted by TwoStride at 10:20 AM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sorry, hanging out while 6 feet apart isn’t coronavirus social distancing, expert says. Perhaps you could hold your own ceremony on Zoom and invite others to watch/speak.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:26 AM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

If it were me I would consider a surprise drive by. Individual family members decorate their car and park on your street at a certain time and maybe leave gifts (secretly a few days before before so he can open them) . You run out for an errand before they arrive and they are on the street honking you drive back home.
Maybe you have a car with a sun-roof he can pop out of?
posted by ReluctantViking at 10:30 AM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some elementary school kids hosted their own ceremony in Minecraft.
posted by oceano at 10:31 AM on April 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

we just can't let this event go un-marked
Who is ‘we’? Have you asked him what he wants? Almost none of my friends or family had parties for this, because it wasn’t appealing.

If he’s ok with letting it pass without fanfare and performance, please let him do so.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:38 AM on April 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

My kid turned 17 last week (which I know isn't as big of a deal as graduation, but similar in "teenager's celebration") and one thing I did was make a big effort to let all our friends and family know well in advance, and explictly ask them to send cards for him. (I made it clear I wasn't asking for presents, just cards.) It was very joyous being able to put a big pile of cards out on the table for him to see when he woke up. And I could tell that my son was actually moved by some of the stuff that his friends wrote to him.

We also went over the top on home decorating. I woke up early that day and got out basically every party decorating item we had and went to town.

Lastly, I made him a cake and had it ready for him before he woke up -- "cake for breakfast" just screams celebration.

And yes, all of this was a tiny bit "cringy," as my kid would say, but dammit we are here to CELEBRATE even if we are stuck at home.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I’m graduating with my masters in a few weeks an also had my graduation ceremony canceled. This is what I’m still doing to celebrate:

- a zoom party with my large and spread out family. During this I have a few games planned to guide it a bit since it will also include my partner’s family and just conversation may be difficult (like trivia about my university/program)
- decorating our apartment anyway
- I still paid for the graduation robes/hood/mortarboard because..
- I decided that cap and gown photos are important to me
- my parents bought me a fancy frame for my diploma.
- ordering take out from a favorite fancier restaurant in town that we wouldn’t usually go to
- zoom party with my cohort and our department head who has been fantastic to us professionally and personally
- taking photos with my friends at a later date

Congrats to your son! It’s an important occasion
posted by raccoon409 at 11:12 AM on April 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: We're hanging our daughter's cap and gown on the front door, and putting out a yard sign to congratulate her on her graduation.

I'm sending out announcements as usual and hoping that family will send back cards for her to read. She loves reading mail.

I'll cook her a special dinner, and she'll get to open presents from us (her parents.)

It doesn't feel like enough, but we really just don't know what else to do.
posted by headspace at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Have a home party. Whatever they like, or don't like. If you are of the means - a little wad of cash for the kid to do something really fun with when they're ready to go back outside.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 11:59 AM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A few family members have celebrated big events during this time and one thing we did that was fun was to have each of the friends and family members make a short video of themselves congratulating the honoree. One person edited them all together and then we had a Zoom viewing party where we played the video and watched the person it was about watch the video.

One was for my nephew's 13th birthday, and the other was for my cousin who successfully kept his fast on buffalo wings for the entirety of Lent (which, if you knew him, was a huge deal).

In addition to giving friends and family a meaningful way to connect while we're all apart and sad about it, the videos will be a little time capsule for the future of this very strange time in our lives.
posted by elvissa at 12:05 PM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Is his school doing anything at all? Virtual graduation or anything? If they are, plan a cookout and celebration around that.

the senior class parents here are planning a substitute senior week with themed zoom parties every day. you could even do that for a group of friends - luau theme one day, somethign else the next. Our school is probably alot smaller than yours, which has its benefits at this time.

One of the sports teams spliced together a video of teammates throwing a ball to each other - from one frame to the next. Maybe have family members do something like that with an interest of his?
posted by domino at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our town started an "adoption" program for the high school seniors at the local school where members of the community adopt them and basically give them a gift basket and other goodies to mark their graduation and upcoming college time. I adopted the son of a friend who loves WWII, games, and snacks. I've ordered Axis and Allies for him, will get some gas cards since he will be at a commuter school, and will find some exotic snacks for him. Most of all, I will make sure he has lots of written encouragement from us and our kids.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 3:29 PM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This was done by the local school as a surprise for the graduating seniors, which was a nice idea. There is also door decorating.
posted by gudrun at 6:35 PM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, just the other day, every senior in town (close to 400?) got a lawn sign installed by a teacher or administrator -- which is cool!

(Of course, the day before that, we had gotten a separate one from the neighbor who runs a sign shop -- but it's all good. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2020

Best answer: Keep the door open for a potential late summer, off-to-college get-together (if circumstances allow by then.) Everyone is in the same boat, so if it's safe maybe have an open house one of the weekends just before everyone starts leaving for new schools. Even if it's a ten or twenty person limit you can have folks sign up for which hour they'll be by.
posted by Cris E at 10:19 AM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: We did a few things on the day he got his diploma. A couple of weeks before the "official" graduation date, every student was assigned a timeslot to bring up to five guests to the front parking lot. We were shown into the lobby (masked) to wait, and then stepped into the high school's lobby. There, the principal waited atop a temporary stage. The camera started, the student's name was read, they (briefly unmasked) collected their diploma cover, and walked off. The camera stopped, and we went to a backdrop for snapshots, and then cleared out down the hall as another family entered.

We wandered the campus to take some pictures (on the bridge, by the sign, near the entrance), while other families did the same and kept their distance. It was a nice hour. We stopped by his grandma's house for some distant photos, and the neighbors came out to cheer (which we weren't expecting!) when they saw his cap & gown.

At home, we had decorated inside with balloons and signs, as well as the giant banner my wife & daughter made for the door-decorating contest (which TBH was mostly for the moms, everyone agreed *shrug*).

The assembled video snippets are being edited together into a composite "video graduation," which we will have a watch party for -- on the night they were supposed to be crossing the stage in person. I'll scrape that video, and then stitch in some greetings that far-away family have sent.

The adoption-a-senior programs around here have been very popular, and he was adopted by two different families. That has been fun. :7)

Our intent is to have a party for some friends & family later in the summer, once the governor loosens restrictions on gatherings. (Some families in town have already thrown parties for their kids in violation of the guidelines, which is...not doing them any real favors.) He's headed to college one state away this fall, and we're focusing on that now.

Thanks for all the suggestions, and I hope everyone is safe & sound.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:17 PM on May 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

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