Skip to main content

Graduation parties — corny tradition or meaningful celebration

In Other Words
Lead Summary
Jason Berghorst, reporter

Recently a friend sent me a link to a satire video that had some fun with graduation open houses. 
“So spot on,” the friend remarked in the text. 
The video highlighted the most universal aspects of the traditional open house:
•Hastily cleaned garages with the normal garage items hidden behind a tarp.
•Display boards of photos from childhood — extra credit if the yearly school photos are lined up in order.
•Folding chairs and tables borrowed from church.
•Pulled pork sandwiches.
•Beverages in labeled coolers on the floor along the wall.
•Awkward small talk with the graduate and random people you might sit next to. 
Most of us who live in a small town can immediately recognize and appreciate these stereotypical highlights of the annual graduation open houses. 
Being a high school teacher in small towns for 18 years now, I’ve been to hundreds of open houses and definitely got a good laugh out of the video.
While it’s true that many graduation parties have a lot in common, I’m often most interested in what makes each party unique. 
The variety of foods served, decorations, venues, and more vary a lot more than that video admitted.
Each party tells a lot about the student and what their family is most proud of. 
Over the years I’ve come to realize graduation open houses aren’t really about the actual accomplishment of graduating from high school.
As the satirical video points out, almost all kids graduate. The parties are really about each family celebrating their kid.
Reminiscing on the first 18 years and recognizing all that it means to raise a child; the highs and lows, the good times and the challenges that have gotten the kids ... and their families … to this point. 
And looking forward to the future and all that lies ahead. 
An end and a start all at once. 
Truly a rite of passage. 
And sharing it all with relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, church and community members. 
The people who helped get the graduate ... and the family … to this point. 
It’s all so much more than cards, photo displays, folding chairs (that I don’t quite trust) and overly full stomachs. 
Sometimes we laugh at traditions and wonder why they continue or maybe even find them pointless. 
Other times we can step back and consider why they do and should continue. 
When we do, the pulled pork or walking tacos taste even better, the preschool pictures look even cuter, and the congratulatory handshakes mean just a little more. 
Congrats to the Class of 2021 and their families; not just for graduating, but for all that reaching the open house milestone actually means. 
Thanks for inviting me and letting me share in your important events.
And thanks, too, for those little red and white mints. I do love those.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.