How to Celebrate Graduation for All Ages & Stages (Virtually)
Life has changed drastically for families in the last few months, and with schools closed, kids are missing out on special end-of-the-year milestones like graduation. The good news, with a little creativity, there are a lot of fun ways you can make the best of it and still give these important moments the recognition they deserve. We’ve rounded up awesome virtual graduation ideas for everyone, from kindergarteners to high school seniors, to help you celebrate at home. See them below.
Pre-K & Kindergarten
Many preschools and Kindergarten classes typically mark the end of the school year with a performance of some kind. You don’t have to miss out on those adorable end-of-year singalongs, just change your venue to the internet. Select a few songs that kids can learn and practice at home. Host a virtual singalong on a platform, like Zoom where kids can sing together. If that seems too chaotic, a Facebook Live singalong is another option. Teachers can sing the songs on the feed, and kids and their families can follow along at home.
Virtual Art Show
These early years of school feature plenty of arts and crafts projects. Highlight some of that work with a virtual art show. Have teachers and parents upload pictures of kids’ artwork to a website, like Shutterfly, then create a slideshow of all the images that families can watch together.
Chalk Art Messages
Ask your room parents or school volunteers to surprise students with chalk art messages. Assign each volunteer a few homes to visit early in the morning and leave messages of congrats in chalk on the driveways for kids to discover.
At this age, kids likely don’t have a lot of patience for a long, drawn-out ceremony. Instead, ask your teachers and principals to put together a short speech or presentation coupled with a culmination video of the kids. Ask parents to send in any images they have from the school year to edit together. You don’t have to be super tech-savvy to do this; apps like iMovie make it a snap to put your images together with music. Another cute idea is to include a short clip of each student explaining what they want to be when they grow up.
Elementary & Middle School
From Halloween parades to science fairs, chances are there are plenty of parents who captured special moments while school was still in session. Put a call out to your class parents and teachers for photos and videos from the school year; don’t forget to include some of those homeschool snapshots too. Use a simple app, like iMovie, to edit all the submissions together in a video you can share with the whole class.
Rally your school families together to put on a car parade to celebrate the occasion. There are a variety of ways you can organize this, but one way would be to have grads parade past the school where they can pick up their diplomas through a safe grab-and-go. Another idea is to have non-graduating students cheer from their homes as grads parade by in their cars.
Did school closures leave you without that special commemorative graduation photo? Set up your own at-home graduation photoshoot. You can find graduation-themed photo booth backdrops on Amazon or simply hang up a sheet in your school colors, and have your kids dress up in their graduation outfits. You can also find cap and gown sets on Amazon.
With older kids, it’s a little easier to organize a virtual ceremony that everyone can sit through and enjoy. Work with your teachers and the school principal to plan a virtual graduation ceremony via Zoom or another school-approved platform. Have the principal, a favorite teacher or a special guest speaker give a commencement address against a festive virtual backdrop. Invite the kids to dress up at home for the occasion. If possible, have diplomas or graduation certificates mailed or delivered to students ahead of time so that parents can fill in for the principal at home and hand students their certificates.
Virtual Grad Night/ Prom
In addition to the actual graduation, high school seniors have several other special moments they might be missing, like prom and grad night. Host a virtual dance via Zoom. Invite kids to dress up and have the host take on the role of DJ. The whole family can get in on the fun with a dance party in the living room. For grad night, plan a virtual game night. Choose fun, simple games to play, like Bingo, Scattergories, with this theme generator, or trivia, with this topic generator. You can also check out apps, like House Party, which have built-in multiplayer games, like HeadsUp and trivia. You can even arrange to have sweet treats delivered to guests: Iconic dessert companies like Magnolia Bakery and Milk Bar deliver nationwide.
Groups have been popping up all over Facebook dedicated to adopting the senior class of 2020. Each group has its own rules, but the general idea is that grads can be “adopted” by people across the country who will send them gift cards or other special gifts, create yard signs or find other creative ways to celebrate their success.
That big high school graduation moment only comes once, so why not announce it to the world? Contact your local newspaper to list a graduation announcement either in their print editions or on their social media channels. Another option is to spread the news with a yard sign like these from Proud of My Grad, which can be customized to celebrate your teen’s academic achievements. “Some students are planning to ask their fellow graduates to write a message on the back of their signs, so they become keepsakes the way mortarboards and tassels have been in the past,” co-founder Jeff Herrington said in a press release. Another option is to order graduation announcements and mail them out, not unlike your annual holiday card. Artifact Uprising is offering a few options at a discount, or check out your favorite printing service.
Like elementary and middle school grads, you can organize a virtual graduation ceremony for high school seniors via Zoom or another virtual meeting platform. A live stream event with a special guest giving a commencement address is another excellent option. Facebook just announced that it will live stream a virtual commencement on May 15 with speakers including Oprah, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Akwafina and Simone Biles. On June 6th, former President Obama, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, among others, will participate in the YouTube "Dear Class of 2020" virtual commencement celebration.
Featured photo: Juan Ramos via Unsplash