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Helpful Tips for When Graduation is Hours Away

The Graduation Coordinators Handbook

You’re at the starting gate and graduation begins soon. Are you excited? We know we are! This is an important day for students, families and also for your school. Your school thanks you for all of your hard work. Here are some helpful tips for what you’ll want to do just hours before the graduation ceremony.

Graduation Day is Hours Away 1

Get All The Ushers in Place

It is important to have all ushers at the campus in a meeting area at least an hour before the event starts. This will allow staff to go over the game plan throughout the day, including which ushers will stand in which area of the facility, emergency protocols in case of accidents or fires, as well as campus directions for lost family, students and more.

Ushers should also be made aware of handicapped seating, reserved seating and other special seating plans. They will also direct graduates to the stage. Sometimes, these ushers are lowerclassmen that are top ranked within their grade. This can be an exciting moment for lowerclassmen as they look forward to their graduation ceremony.


Remember to ask your Ushers to dress similarly (white shirt, black pants, and black shoes) so that people can easily identify them.

Graduation Day is Hours Away 2

Double Check The Master Ceremony Program

Obtaining a copy of the master schedule before the commencement ceremony is essential. You can then review all details of the event including times, students, misprints and other information so you can correct errors and omissions can before the ceremony.

You’ve already given out copies for graduation ceremony committee members to review, but now is the time to discover if any changes or updates are necessary. If so, make copies and get them distributed quickly.


Change the color of the cover, so that people know right away that this new master schedule is the final, updated version!

Graduation Day is Hours Away 3

Hand Out Master Schedule & Parent/Student Program

When staff arrives before the check-in and the ceremony start, it is important to distribute additional copies the master program to all participating staff. This is so everyone can be in the right place at the right time. People tend to forget things like this at home or in the car, so extra copies are always a good idea.

If you are handing out schedules to students and families upon arrival, do so when the attendees enter the graduation facility before being seated. Alternatively, you have the option to place a program on each seat, so no one is left out.

Extras should also be made available at information tables just in case. These may be distributed to ushers as well.


It is a wise idea to have a few extras of both schedules. You never know who will lose their master plan. Students and parents will also want additional copies of the program as a keepsake.

Graduation Day is Hours Away 4

Set Up Diplomas, Certificates & Awards

On stage, it is important to organize diplomas, and awards accordingly. No graduation coordinator wants a student to go home with another student’s degree or award. These errors could take weeks to straighten out.

Make sure to set up a table with staffers to help hand them out when the time has come. The arrangement of the awards should reflect the alphabetized list of future graduates as well as the order of awards.

Having an organized area will make the commencement ceremony go as smoothly as possible without staffers scrambling for the correct diploma, award or certificate. This should be done well in advance of the ceremony, and setup finished as attendees take their seats.


Organize the diplomas and awards and have someone double-check the setup.

Graduation Day is Hours Away 5

Those Last Minute Inspections

The final preparations are the most important part of the ceremony. Now is the time when you’ll make sure that every seat has a program, every award is on the table and check-marked off a list, and most importantly, making sure every speaker and guest are ready.

Writing down speeches as well as a list of guest speakers will allow the ceremony to start off in good spirits and orderly fashion. Arrange all certificates to be concurrent with the list of graduates and their areas of study.

Make sure ushers, security and other staff are in place, as well as graduates in their respective section. Are all the details in place? Well, we think you’re about ready to start!


Take a deep breath when you start last-minute inspections. Double check those details and smile – you’re ready for a great graduation ceremony!

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Keep a lookout for additional articles if you want to learn more! There will be many articles about graduation planning on our blog in the weeks to come. 

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