Cap and Gown Celebrations: Graduating from the Pandemic

Cap and Gown Celebrations: Graduating from the Pandemic

- in Education, Featured, Parenting

Graduation is a time to celebrate one’s achievement — from preschool graduation to college commencement. For many, school and graduation plans have looked different due to COVID over the past few years. Families are hoping to make their loved one’s big day extra special.

Rachel Bowser has seen the toll COVID took on her daughter Emma’s high school experience – this is the first year Emma has had all in-person classes since the pandemic began.

“Emma has had remote classes since 2020,” Rachel Bowser says. “It’s really bittersweet for her, because on one hand, she gets to be in-person her last year with all her friends. But on the other hand, she has to focus on graduating and going to college and being an adult.”

Emma, a senior at Berea-Midpark High School, says the pandemic has had a huge effect on her senior class and her classmates’ dynamics with one another.

“The pandemic definitely made us all antisocial,” Emma says. “It really made us all break away from each other. I think if we [had been] all together in-person, I think the senior class would be a lot closer.”

Berea-Midpark High School is celebrating graduation outdoors for the second straight year. Masks are optional, and students are allowed to bring up to seven people to the ceremony.

Commencement will be held in the front yard of the high school, and bleachers will be set up in a U-shape for parents and families, with graduates seated in the center. The ceremony will also be live-streamed.

“Commencement will be different, as well as some senior traditions,” Rachel Bowser says.

While graduation remains outdoors, other activities are back to normal: the spring musical is in-person, and prom will be in-person indoors.

Families are deciding how to safely celebrate their graduates after their teens step across the stage and receive their diplomas.

The Bowser family plans to have a family dinner after graduation and will throw a graduation party for Emma.

Rachel Bowser says some families who are choosing not to throw a graduation party are instead taking their graduate out of state for vacation.

“Our family is looking into getting a food truck for Emma’s graduation party,” she says. “That is definitely the new trend. Emma was thinking of a taco bar and Kona Ice to cater shaved ice.”

Emma has been a cheerleader since the seventh grade, so the party will be centered around her love for cheerleading.

Although graduation is bittersweet for Emma, she is looking forward to enrolling in college. She hopes to spend her freshman and sophomore years at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma and her junior and senior years at Cleveland State University.

While Tri-C does offer hybrid, in-person and 100% online classes, Emma will be online for her first semester unless there is an in-person lab.

“It is kind of sad, because I got used to in-person high school, and now I will be online again for college,” Emma says.

“Hopefully by next year, things are back to normal,” Rachel Bowser says.


Fun ways to celebrate your graduates:

Create a Photo Album

Take your child’s school photos and organize them in a photo album. If you are throwing a graduation party, leave a blank page next to each school photo and have your loved ones write their favorite memory with the graduate from that year. 

Letters of Love

Have loved ones write a letter to your graduate. If your child is graduating eighth grade and is age 14, have 8 or 14 people write your graduate a letter on tips to succeed in high school. If your child is 18 and graduating from high school, have 12 or 18 people write a letter sending them well wishes for college. 

Decorate their Cap

If your child is receiving a cap and gown, find unique ways to decorate their cap. Use school colors, funny phrases, or meaningful words of wisdom. Have your child wear this on their big day.

Childhood Clothesline

Create a childhood clothesline that represents their time in school. If your child wore uniforms, hang up their uniforms from over the years. If your child wore dress-down clothes, display their favorite outfit from each year. Childhood clotheslines make for great photo ops.

Buy Them a Ticket to Their Favorite Concert

Many concerts have been canceled in the last few years due to COVID. Surprise your grad by buying them a ticket to their favorite music star. Get creative with the delivery – hand them an envelope with lyrics written on them, or send them on a scavenger hunt to find clues about the artist.

Brag about Them on Social Media

Share your graduate’s accomplishments on social media. Post them in their cap and gown with diploma in hand. Let your family and friends know about your graduate’s hard work!

Take Them on Vacation

Celebrate your graduate by taking them to their favorite vacation spot. Send them clues throughout the week about where they are going — if you are going somewhere with a beach, place sand buckets, sunscreen and other goodies in different areas of your house. Have your child piece together where they will be heading!

Throw a Graduation Party

Invite family and friends to celebrate your graduate. Let your child choose what food will be served. Choose a theme – if your child was involved with a band, have instrument decorations, balloons the color of their instrument, and so forth.

Display Their Diploma or Cap and Gown

As simple as it seems, celebrate your graduate by displaying their cap and gown or diploma in the home. Show them that you are proud of all they have accomplished.


Looking to Celebrate Your Graduate? Give a shout out to your graduate in the June/July issue of Northeast Ohio Parent!

We are opening up pages of Northeast Ohio Parent magazine to allow you to celebrate this special time in your child’s life. From preschool through college — all graduates deserve some extra special recognition this year! Visit here for details.




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