Guide To Almost All Things Graduation (For High School Parents)

Now that I’ve survived a high school graduation from the parent side, here’s what I’ve learned. And it was quite the learning, stressful, exciting, and wonderful experience!  

Senior Pictures

Our school took these through the same company that does all yearbook pictures during the summer before my son’s senior year. There was very limited information about it.

We had to pay extra if we wanted cap and gown photos (We opted not to do it).

The pictures did not turn out very well and were quite expensive. I found a wonderful local photographer to do a much better (and less expensive) job later in the school year.

The Graduation Announcements  

Turns out you don’t have to order all those fancy announcements through the school. Many of my been there done that friends, did not. However, I did because I was the excited first time parent. I’ll probably do it again as the excited second time parent but with more knowledge.

What I learned about the experience:

They make you order the stuff early (I can’t remember exactly how early but we had the invitations by the first of April, maybe earlier. So think of a spot to store them.)

It’s a guessing game who to invite. I mostly went by my Christmas card list with a few exceptions. Despite searching many times, I could not find a good “Emily Post” guide about who should/should not get an announcement. Sometimes, I simply reached out to friend/family member and inquired.

All the information about who to invite/preparing the invitations is annoyingly written for the students. Maybe this is because I have boys but more power to you if your students are sending out their own announcements during the end of the school year push with big projects and finals due.

Go through the entire box of graduation announcement materials and examine everything before you begin assembling. This goes along with the advice below but I found an entire box of name cards with the year engraved after I’d sent almost all the announcements out with the plain name cards.

If you order all the fancy bells and whistles with the invitations (tissues, seals, etc), order the same number of everything!  I did not.  Note: Seals aka stickers cost a lot less at Party City.

Finding Information: 

Challenging! Hopefully, your school does a better job than ours with sharing information with both parents and students. Students are busy and sometimes don’t pass that information along in a timely manner.

My lifesaver:

Friends who had been through it before and happily and gracefully answered every annoying question I could summon. And who kindly texted me a copy of the important paper with all the dates.

Reading the weekly announcements from the high school also helped a bit.


This is optional in our school system. And happens in the middle of an extremely busy week. My son did not want to go. I insisted and was so glad I managed to get our family there.

Only the four of us went and I enjoyed having the special time during graduation season with just our immediate family present.

There were fewer people so it was a bit more relaxed and we could easily find our son.

The pictures we took with him and his best friend plus our family pictures are my favorites from all the graduation events.

Graduation Day:


It’s stressful doling out a limited number of tickets to family members.

Don’t assume everyone wants to go the actual ceremony (especially if it starts super early in the morning on a Saturday!). We actually ended up with extra tickets after requesting more due to this. Thankfully, I found someone in need the night before graduation.

The logistics of getting the attendees their tickets: We did not want to deal with trying to meet family on the morning of graduation. We opted to simply put the tickets in labeled envelopes and put them in our mailbox for family members to pick up on the way to the ceremony. That way, we only had to get ourselves into the ceremony. This worked really well especially since we had guests who overslept and did not make it to the ceremony (we had several bad storms go through parts of the city the night before graduation).

The Ceremony:

Ours was short and sweet but you still probably want a tissue in case of a few tears.

The school provided a photographer as each student walked across the stage so I opted to simply enjoy the event without my camera (or phone) in hand.

After The Ceremony:

Have a plan and a place to meet your graduate!  I can’t believe we didn’t think to do this. We missed a lot of photo opportunities with family because we could not find our graduate (and he could not find us either).


Wait! What about a graduation party? We had one but I’ve opted to cover everything related to that in a separate post.

Congratulations to all the graduates!

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2 thoughts on “Guide To Almost All Things Graduation (For High School Parents)

  1. Cathy

    Wow that all sounds such a lot to think about and organise. In the UK we have a prom at the end of school (age 16) but that’s optional. Teen 1 went to his but teen 2 doesn’t want to go to his. After that it’s either 2 years of A levels before going on to university if wanted or skipping the A levels for an apprenticeship. Either way kids need to either stay in education or apprenticeship until they’re 18 years old. It’s a way of reducing the unemployment figures.
    Glad all went ok for you, it’s good other parents are willing to share info, though I’ve found they tend to share key info to themselves leaving you still unsure. Take care, Cathy x

    1. Jean Post author

      That sounds a lot less complicated. My son managed to get through high school without attending a single prom (or any other dance!). Hope your week is off to a great start!

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