Spring of 2020 may henceforth be known as "the year without graduation ceremonies." And while many kids, older students, and their loving and proud parents, friends and family could grow bitter about the coronavirus pandemic cancelling commencement, that's not helpful. Since it can't be changed, here are ways to celebrate graduation without the large or in-person gatherings.
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Do photo ops with those graduate yard signs. If your high school made commemorative yard signs for its graduates, or you ordered your own, get maximum use from them. Make sure to take some photos of the graduate and their parents (if they live in a safe social distancing situation) in front of the sign. And make careful plans to drive to other graduates' homes to capture a photo with their sign, too. Just make sure you don't violate anyone's privacy or safety.
Honk if you love our graduate. Instead of that same old-same old congratulatory yard banner, consider one that includes a "call to action" for passersby. One that's simple but effective: The "honk and wave" banners available from Zazzle.
Have a drive-by party. This is what that would look like, according to Seventeen: "Just because you're quarantined doesn't mean you can't celebrate," the article reads. "Invite your friends over for a socially distanced drive-by graduation party. Everyone stays in their cars but they can hoot and holler all they want as they drive by your house. You can even hand out party favors as your guests drive-by (Just make sure to wear a mask)."
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Don't forget the pool party. It's a Georgia tradition, hitting the pool, maybe more than once, in celebration of leaving your school days behind. But since pool parties full of everyone potentially unleashing contaminants in the sweat and moisture aren't cool, try the virtual route. Zoom still works outdoors if you have iPhones, you know. Just set a time and have everyone simultaneously put on swimwear and hang out at their own kiddie pools.
Make or buy a 2020 frame. Usually graduation photo frames are pretty average and only convey the year. This year, there are more reasons to buy or create a frame for your kid's photo that captures this unusual era in graduation history.
Create a heart drop textbook shadow box. This is another idea from Seventeen, which recommended teen graduates make a "heart drop" instead of a guest book for their drive-by guests. "Have your drive-by guests sign little wooden hearts and drop them into this frame. You'll be able to hang up the frame and remember everyone who celebrated your graduation with you." Of course, to avoid contamination, you'll want to make sure you handle any new drop-offs with a mask on, and wash your hands thoroughly before you get a chance to touch your face. More extensive directions for making the heart drop textbook box are available on Seventeen's blog spot.
Go for some quarantine graduation swag. There's no lack of humorous takes on graduating in quarantine times. Consider commemorative key chains, water bottles and t-shirts to celebrate the graduate. And depending on the family's sense of humor, you can also purchase a "Holy crap! Class of 2020" embroidered diploma in toilet paper motif.
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Create a commemorative social distancing mask. No matter whether you missed the live college, high school, or 8th grade graduation, consider using a sewing machine or fabric glue to create a mask. Creative ideas include a mask in your school colors or with a pattern that reflects your interests, like band or Yearbook.
Provide party bags. Would you have gone to this much trouble if you or your child hadn't been stripped of a formal graduation ceremony? Probably not, but it's fun to go a little overboard to compensate. This idea of creating party favor bags and putting them out for those who drive by to celebrate from a safe distance comes from Today. There are even customized bags available from Etsy with a drawing of a car sporting a graduation cap you can use to contain those treats.
Collect the graduation news to look back on later. Like it or not, the Class of 2020 is making history with everything from cancelled traditions like prom to online learning. If you get a chance, create a virtual or hard copy scrap book of some of the odd, zany, and fun graduation observances that emerged. The New Hampshire class that did a ski lift graduation, Ryan Seacrest creating a podcast to congratulate the graduates at his alma mater in Dunwoody, and the Cuyahoga Falls High School in Ohio that organized a "Honk-Out" Parade complete with a playlist blasted over the school's radio system are just a few memorable examples to start with.
And if the traditional time for your graduation has already come and gone? It's never too late to celebrate the grad with a drive-by or Zoom call. And that call might even make it possible for very far-flung relatives to tune in.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com
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