Graduation Etiquette


What do we wear to graduation?

  • Ladies, you are expected to wear a dress or a skirt and blouse or very nice dress pants.  You will be wearing a black robe, so dark shoes are best.  The floor you walk across is flat, so you do not have to go up and down stairs unless you are singing or speaking; nevertheless, you will be standing quite a while and will want shoes that are at least somewhat comfortable. Please note that the floor is concrete and a bit slippery; stilettos are not recommended unless you are really confident in them. There are no rules about whether the shoes have to be closed toed or not; you may wear dressy sandals.
  • Gentlemen, you should wear dress pants and a collared shirt.  A tie is not necessary, but please be aware that if you do wear a tie, the top couple of inches will show, so choose something that will look snazzy with your black robe.  You need dark dress shoes also.
  • Guests should wear business casual or something that they would wear to a church service.  Even though our graduation ceremony is at a sports complex, shorts and t-shirts aren’t really appropriate.
  • Students HAVE been sent home to change clothes before or have had to trade clothes with family members in the audience before.  NOT GOOD!!
  • DO NOT decorate or bling your cap and gown in any way!!! This is a privilege reserved for COLLEGE graduations.


Why do we have to be at graduation so early?

Seniors arrive at graduation early—approximately two hours before the ceremony begins.  This year that means being in the parking lot of the Arena at 6 a.m. and in your seats by 6:30. Guests will be allowed in approximately one hour before the ceremony (7:00).  While the guests are being seated and the graduates are waiting to march in, there isn’t really much to do except socialize with one another one last time.  (You can’t have anything with you because there is nowhere to put anything.  Everything other than car keys will be checked at the door.  Ladies, if your dress or skirt doesn’t have a pocket, you need to figure out something to do with your car key.  Wear it around a chain under your dress, stick it in your shoe, have a male friend hold it in his pocket for you as long as he will remember to give it back to you before he leaves.)  Once the guests are seated, the Class of 2018 will march into the arena together.


What is the ceremony like?

  • The ceremony begins with the seniors marching to their seats.  Seniors will remain standing for the Presentation of Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and the Moment of Silence.
  • The seniors will then be seated for a series of short speeches and songs.
  • Everyone will rise to sing the Alma Mater.
  • Everyone will be seated.  At this time, Mr. Ballantine will present a few special awards and then begin conferring the diplomas.  Seniors will rise when their section or row rises and begin walking towards the stage.  When your name is called, you will step forward, shake hands, and receive your diploma. (At this point, you will get in line to receive your actual diploma UNLESS you owe the school money; in that case, you will receive a bill instead.  You will be able to retrieve your diploma from the school office when you come to pay your bill.) 
  • Finally, the senior class president will come to the podium and introduce you to the world as North Gwinnett’s Class of 2018.  You will turn your class ring, move your tassel from the left side of your cap to the right, and toss your hat.  WARNING:  IF you want to keep your tassel, please remove it from your hat BEFORE you throw it.  Otherwise it may get lost, and we do not have a way of replacing it.  You would have to order a new one from Balfour.


 How long is the graduation ceremony?  What do we DO during graduation?

This year’s graduation will be approximately two hours long.  It varies a little depending on the number of graduates in a class and the length of the songs and speeches that are given.  During the ceremony, you really just sit and watch and listen.  It is appropriate to applaud after speeches, songs, and special awards; however, when the names of the seniors are being called, we ask that you hold your applause until the end.  If we take the time to clap for each individual person, we could be at graduation for hours.  We also ask that you do not scream for each other.  If one person’s name is called and people start screaming, we can’t hear the name of the next person—this is true not only during the ceremony, but on the professional videotape also.  This is good etiquette not just for graduates, but for guests as well.  If your wild cousins or uncles blow air horns when your name is called, we will miss hearing the names of the next two or three people.



What happens to students who misbehave during the ceremony?

Remember, this is still a school function even if it is not on campus. In the past, students throwing beach balls or squirting silly string have been escorted out of the ceremony (think about how horrifying this would be with all of your friends and family watching from the audience) and told to pick up their diploma at school the following week.  Sometimes the students even have to pay a cleaning fine before they can get their diploma; this is especially true in the case of messy items like silly string.  Don’t bring any items other than your car keys into the arena with you.  It just isn’t worth it!!  Remember, too, that graduation is videotaped from several angles, so you are likely to be caught and identified. 


*Please also note that the arena has recently purchased metal detectors, so all graduates and guests will be entering through these.


Graduation is a formal ceremony. 

You do not have the right to ruin it for anybody else!!

Save the party for afterwards!!