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Graduation Rehearsals 101

How-To Hold Your Graduation Rehearsal

You’ve probably heard of the old saying, “practice makes perfect.” We highly recommend that you hold a graduation rehearsal. It’s beneficial for the students, graduation committee, administration, teachers, and staff to hold one. All participants should know what you expect of them on graduation day.

Students are likely to be a combination of excited, nervous and a bit emotional about graduating. Holding a rehearsal can help calm some of these feelings for this milestone occasion. Some students have been thinking fondly about this day for years. Some may be dreading it. No matter what, it can be a very emotional event for everyone involved.

Below are some helpful tips about what you’ll want to do and how to do it. Trust us; it is best for everyone to hold a graduation rehearsal.

graduation rehearsal

Rehearsing the Procession

If the graduation is for small kids, it will need a couple of rehearsal sessions to get it right. For high school students, it may only take one or two attempts. Practicing the procession walk during the beginning of the ceremony is important.

Graduation coordinator should work with administrators and teachers to ensure they are scheduled and executed. If possible, the rehearsal should take place at the graduation venue. It’s best to familiarize students in the actual, versus a staged, environment.

It is beneficial to let the students become acquainted with the layout, so they will know where to enter, sit, walk, and exit. Rehearsing the processional walk will keep the students organized during the actual graduation ceremony.

Our best tips: Try to play your opening music selection as they practice to make the rehearsal feel more like the real thing.

graduation rehearsal

Getting Students Seated

It’s important to match the students seating to the calling of their names accurately. Practicing lining up in alphabetical order, assigning (or labeling) seat numbers, and processing into and out of their appropriate aisles is vital.

It is essential that students know where they should be and when they should be there. By rehearsing the graduation, the students will be aware of their assigned seats. Doing so will avoid problems during the actual ceremony.

Usually, only one student walks the stage at a time with brief pauses in between. At larger schools, with thousands of students, the short break can be a mere second or two (lest everyone in be at the ceremony for several hours or more).

It’s a common practice for an entire row of students to file out and await being called to expedite the process.

Our best tips: Confirm the final list of graduates and compile your student list alphabetically list.

graduation rehearsal

Handing Out Diplomas

Receiving their certificates is the biggest moment to rehearse, as it’s the most significant moment in the ceremony for each student. There is a proper procedure when handing off a diploma.

The graduation coordinator has to teach the students which hand does what. The student receives their diploma with one hand, and shake the distributor’s hand with the other. Both parties should be prepared to use the proper hand to avoid mishaps.

After a student both receives and shakes, they must know the correct direction to make their exit. The last thing you need is a student exiting stage left instead of stage right, or worse, colliding with another graduate. Consequently, the handing out of diplomas will proceed smoothly.

Our best tips: From our conversations with recent graduates, it seems like students can be quite nervous about this part. They are especially about tripping in front of a few hundred of people. Therefore, we advise you practice calming exercises with them. In addition, it’s best to have them repeat back to you all the steps they plan on following to ensure comprehension.

graduation rehearsal

Singing A School Anthem

Some schools have a school song or anthem. These schools either use the choirs or enlist the entire student body in singing the song at the scheduled moment. In addition, the singing of your anthem can instill school pride in both students and attendees.

Students will always remember this song and the day of their graduation. The graduation coordinator can work with the music teachers during the rehearsal.

When students are particularly young, patience is key. The younger the students, the more your anthem should be practiced. If the students aren’t already familiar with your song, it will take a couple of practices before they get it right.

Our best tips: If your school has a school song, make sure music and choir teachers have practiced it with students several times beforehand.

graduation rehearsal

Giving Out Awards

The graduation coordinator has to teach the students the proper way of receiving their medals or honor certificates. It’s the same as receiving the diploma: one hand takes the other hand shakes. If being presented with an honor medal or stole, the student should bend slightly so the award may be hung around or draped over them.

More times than not, the awards are given out at the same time as the diplomas, both to save time and lessen any confusion. In this instance, provide additional time for each honor student before calling the next students name.

Our best tips: Most of all, give proud parents extra time to snap photos and record videos this crucial moment.

graduation rehearsal

Past & Future Reading:

We’ve been publishing articles on specific topics related to graduation planning.

Within them, we provide graduation ideas, instructions, and other useful insights.

If you have any interest in getting all of that information at once, download a copy of GraduationSource‘s eBook.

The document covers all topics relating to Graduation Planning in great detail.

The eBook is technically a draft that we continually improve with feedback from readers like you.

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