Graduation Traditions


Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unisplash

Caps being throw in the air is a common tradition at graduations.

With the school year coming to an end, graduation is coming up quickly. Many seniors around the world are preparing for the end of their high school career and looking forward to their future. With graduation comes many traditions, but why do we do them and where do they come from? 

Caps and gowns are probably the first things you think of when you hear the word graduation. Caps were traditionally worn by students in the fourteenth and fifteenth century to show intelligence. Gowns began to be worn in the twelfth century when universities were on the rise. They were first used to keep warm, as the universities weren’t insulated. But as the years passed, the standard color for the robes became black, and in the 1800s, a color system was used to show which degree the student was getting. For example, a green velvet edge showed that the student was graduating with a medical degree. 

Class rings began in 1835 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Cadets there were the first one to get class rings to symbolize the school’s values and pride for having graduated from such a prestigious place. 

Internationally, graduation ceremonies have many different traditions. In China, many female students dress up in wedding dresses for the ceremony. In Argentina, students who are graduating get pelted with food by family and friends. While a little strange for us, they find it fun and a rite of passage. And in the Philippines, students get necklaces made of flowers called “leis” as they receive their diploma. 

Last year due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduations were changed. A “normal” graduation for Bingham is held at UVU and students get to walk across the stage as their name is read. Family and friends can cheer them on as the students create their last memory as a high school student. But in 2020, this couldn’t go on. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, Bingham held a virtual graduation, where students came to the school previously and walked across the stage, and on the day of graduation, all the videos of them walking were played. 

With the interruption of end of year festivities, people around the state gathered to give the class of 2020 the best graduation they could get. “Adopt a Utah Senior” was a Facebook group started by Arianne De’Angelo and her mother Shelly LoGerfo. They wanted to spread love to the seniors who couldn’t have a normal graduation. Seniors got “adopted” and got gifts and sweet sentiments sent to them. 

Many high schools, including Bingham, held car parades with all the students so they could see all their friends and teachers one last time. And as a smaller way to highlight the seniors, many schools had signs made for families to put in front of their homes that said “Bingham High School [or the applicable school name] Class of 2020”

With the class of 2021 also missing out on many senior year things, schools are hoping to give them the best graduation possible. Bingham is hoping to start the tradition of the car parade, as everyone loved it. Many schools are also doing the “Class of 2021” signs in front of the seniors’ houses. 

Whether traditional or not so typical because of a pandemic, graduation is a big moment in a high school student’s life and should be celebrated with traditions. Many traditions, big or small, old or new, have significance and may have a bigger meaning than just wearing a cap and gown because that is how it’s always done.