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3 Tips for navigating graduation ceremonies with grace

GRADUATION
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Graduating is exciting, but the program is never short. Here’s how to survive and even enjoy the big event!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how many students are graduating from a given school, the ceremony will be long. And no matter how excited you are for the student who has reached a great milestone and is moving on to a new chapter in his or her life, that ceremony may be challenging to sit through. The following are some tips and tricks to help you make it to the pictures and food on the other side with a smile on your face.

First of all, let’s talk seating …

Bleachers are often the seating of choice at graduation and commencement ceremonies. And bleachers are not the most comfortable place to be for hours on end without a half-time concession break. I’ve seen people who bring little pillows to sit on for some comfort and the realization that I could do that too was groundbreaking. Bring a slightly bigger bag than you would otherwise, and slip a small cushion in there. Or find someone who has a bag and slip your cushion in with them. Your back and rear will thank you later!

The other point to keep in mind about seating is to be careful about who you sit next to. If you like exchanging little quips about the ceremony under your breath with cousin Jeremy, then by all means sit next to him. But if you prefer a little silence, sitting right next to your talkative cousin  is not the best choice. Also, if you know your bladder will not be able to handle the length of the ceremony, try to sit near the end of a row rather than in the middle.

Second, remember how you packed packed a bigger bag to fit a pillow from above? The benefits of that bag are endless …

One benefit is that there will be room for a sweater or light jacket which, can some in handy since often the air conditioning will be going full blast in whatever large indoor space the graduation is taking place. If you want to avoid shivering for a long time, a small jacket will go a long way. If the ceremony is outside, there is no shame in bringing sunglasses and some kind of small, quiet fan to help. Or better yet, bring both a fan and a jacket just in case!

Third, you may experience a lot of lag time throughout a graduation day. Perhaps you came early to get better seats. Perhaps one of the speeches is difficult to hear. Perhaps you’re just going stir crazy sitting for so long. When those moments pop up, and it would be inappropriate to chat with someone nearby or spend the whole time on your phone, here are a few go-to suggestions …

One, pull out your phone or camera, and take some interesting pictures. Change the settings until you get optimal lighting and clarity. Sure, you may have to delete a good number of pictures that don’t work out, but you may get some good ones. Two, pull out the program and play graduation bingo. Find people in the program with the most beautiful or interesting names. If it’s a high school ceremony, find the most popular college that the graduates will be attending. If it’s a college ceremony, find unpopular majors and courses of study. Three, bring a pencil or pen, and take notes on the speeches on the programs. Summarize the main points, rate the presenter on poise, presentation, and content, and compare the speeches at the end to find the best one.

Then congratulate yourself for making it through another ceremony this year. And congratulations to all the graduates, too. Now go get something to eat and celebrate!

Read more: 4 Ways to help when your teen has no clue what to do after graduation

Read more: The high school graduate who built a school for the deaf in East Africa

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