May is the month of graduations, whether it be at the grade school, high school, or college level. It is a time of celebration and the transition into the next level of education or the entry into the real world.
However, it seems that the graduation ceremony (a.k.a. commencement) and the prerequisites for graduating have become excessive, perhaps even redundant.
Apparently over twenty states require exit exams in addition to the other academic requirements (i.e. course credits) in order for one to graduate from high school.
I do not think exit exams are necessary, especially since the high school seniors are already occupied with taking the final exams in all of their classes. In fact, it is probably a burden, since the seniors would take their final exams, then have to turn around and take another exam so they can graduate. And do exit exams serve an actual purpose, other than being a requirement? It seems like exit exams are nothing more than bureaucratic mandates at the state level.
Supposedly some colleges and universities also have exit exams.
At any rate, exit exams at all levels of education should be scrapped.
When it comes to graduation ceremonies, I feel they are not necessary at the grade school level.
As for high school graduations, I believe they can be carried out within an hour (or longer depending on the number of people graduating). That means limit the number of speeches for the ceremony (and that includes not having guest speakers), keep all necessary speeches short and sweet, confine music performances to Pomp and Circumstance at the beginning of the ceremony, and abolish the exit procession. Any special recognitions will count as always. In addition, perhaps the valedictorian speech should be optional. And have the actual diplomas at the ceremony to be handed out instead of some proxy certificates, because it seems silly for high school graduates to have to pick up their diplomas at a later date (although they might have to do so in order to obtain their final transcripts).
Similar changes could be implemented at the college level.
Unruly behavior at graduation has become a problem at times, but I think whatever punishment is handed out should not outweigh the crime (i.e. withholding someone’s diploma). People who get out of line could be asked to leave, or the ceremony could end at that point and the graduates can pick up their diplomas later.
Which brings me to my final point, and that is whether or not graduation ceremonies are still necessary (especially since at some schools the graduates are not given their actual diplomas and have to pick them up later). In addition, the graduating students have fulfilled their academic requirements, so why make participating in the ceremony mandatory? Is tradition an official policy at various schools? And keep in mind not all graduates attended commencement, but graduated anyway (note: there may be some schools out there that will withhold diplomas for those who choose not to attend graduation unless they have a valid excuse).
Perhaps the graduating students should be allowed to vote on whether or not they want a ceremony.
So in conclusion, commencements should be optional (and those who don’t attend can pick their diplomas up later), they should be short as possible, and the school officials should have the diplomas on hand.
Thus, keep it simple.