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Prom & Graduation

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Graduation etiquette for grads, guests and more

Graduation is a celebration that marks the culmination of years of hard work and determination. It's a pivotal moment in a student's life when he or she will be facing the next great adventure, whether that involves additional schooling or venturing into the workforce.

While graduation is a joyous occasion, it is important that both graduates and their guests adhere to the established etiquette that governs graduation ceremonies. Graduation may require that graduates and their immediate families deal with certain challenging issues, such as who to invite when faced with limited seating, and unexpected emotions that may arise when grads don their caps and gowns.

• Handle limited seats with courtesy. Many schools limit the number of seats each student can reserve for guests. This can make it tricky when there are a number of people who are worthy of an invite. Explain to friends and family who you cannot invite that you would love to have them there but are restricted by ticket allotments. Try to have both sides of the family represented. Usually an invite to the after-party will thwart any hard feelings.

• Understand no two graduations are alike. Schools adhere to different policies and procedures regarding graduation. Keep in mind that graduation ceremonies may run several hours, especially for large graduating classes. If the ceremony figures to run long, leave young children at home. In addition, be courteous to older guests who might not be able to sit or stand for too long.

• Stick to paper invitations. Many schools provide students with invitations, but graduates and their families can choose to buy their own. Paper invitations are more personal than digital alternatives. Paper invitations also give the impression that the ceremony will be formal.

• Formal invites translate to gifts. Anyone who receives an invitation is obligated to give the graduate a gift. Give grads their gifts in person, even if you cannot attend the ceremony. If you live far away and won't be in attendance, arrange for the gift to arrive as close to the ceremony date as possible.

• Graduation parties should be all-inclusive. Graduation ceremonies are often followed by parties. If possible, try to coordinate with other friends who are graduating so that parties are not on the same day or at least not at the same time. This way everyone who would like to attend can do so. If friends do attend, The Emily Post Institute suggests that graduates explain to their friends that family will be at the party and that polite behavior is expected.

Adhering to established etiquette and displaying common sense at graduation ceremonies and parties can make for a more enjoyable day.

Atascadero News & Paso Robles Press