Grad Fest 2014

Graduation ceremonies were a fixture in my life when I was younger. As a four-year member of both my high school and college bands, I attended eight straight years of graduations (and have played Pomp and Circumstance more times than I can possibly count). Last year was actually the first time since 2004 that I didn’t attend any graduations, so I suppose it was appropriate that I more than made up for it with Grad Fest 2014.

Things kicked off on Saturday with my sister’s college graduation. Because her alma mater doesn’t have large outdoor facilities, it holds graduation in its basketball arena. I did not rank above my parents, grandma, or aunt who drove all the way from Seattle for graduation, so I, along with my brother and another aunt, watched graduation remotely from an auditorium.


I knew a decent number of graduates in my sister’s class, so sitting through the ceremony wasn’t nearly as mind-numbing as I feared it would be. After graduation, we all convened in the school’s quad, where they had delicious cookies. Oh, and graduates.


My family and I then headed to a local tapas place for graduation dinner. I love Mediterranean cuisine in the majority of its varieties (Greek, Middle Eastern, etc.), but Spanish is probably my favorite of them all, and tapas-style dining is hands down my favorite way to eat a meal. With 13 of us at dinner, we ordered nearly everything on the menu, and I ate like I wouldn’t eat again for another 36 hours (oh, right. That’s because I didn’t. 😛 ).


I spent all of Sunday totally down for the count thanks to my stomach flu, but felt well enough on Monday to actually consume calories again. My brother had his high school graduation party on Monday, complete with pulled pork, ice cream, and four different kinds of bar cookies my mom made for the occasion.


I subsisted on Gatorade and toast. Sigh. (Never fear: there were leftovers for me to enjoy once my stomach returned to a happy state.)

I still felt a bit iffy on Monday during the party, so I hung out in the pantry at the church where we had the shindig…


…and waited to emerge until I could hear my family asking where I was. Haha. I socialized with old family friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and totally bonded with my former high school Bible and AP Government teacher over running. He used running metaphors all the time in class, and I remember thinking he was absolutely nuts when he’d talk about running (he was the first person I ever heard complain about runs three miles or shorter because “you just get warmed up when it’s time to stop.” At the time, I couldn’t fathom running more than two miles under any circumstance, so the idea of just being warmed up after two or three miles sounded totally insane). Anyway, we talked about marathoning for a long time, and it was probably one of the highlights of my week home. I’ve always had a pretty strict “Teachers are authority figures, not friends” mentality, even as an alum, so it was really cool to talk to a former teacher as a fellow runner rather than as a scary grownup. It also further confirmed that running is awesome at bringing people together. I never have an easier time striking up a conversation with anyone–my former teacher or otherwise–than I have when I find out I’m talking with another runner.

My brother then graduated from high school on Thursday. He was class president, and he gave a wonderful speech (in my obviously unbiased opinion 😉 ). The real speaker, though, totally stole my brother’s thunder. One of the most respected and well-liked teachers at my high school is retiring after this year, so my brother’s class invited him to give the graduation address. Now, I’ve sat through a lot (a lot) of graduation speeches in my day, but I really think this teacher’s was the best one I’ve heard. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the end.

My brother went directly to Grad Bash after graduation, but the rest of the family continued a tradition my aunt established after I graduated high school:


Sundaes at McDonald’s. We keep it classy 😛

Do you remember any graduation speeches? I honestly am not even sure I remember who spoke at my college graduation, let alone what (s)he spoke on. My favorite high school teacher spoke at my high school graduation, though again, I don’t have the foggiest idea what he said anymore. Oops.
How did your college arrange its graduates for graduation? I’m taking a poll. At my college, they arranged us by degree, and then arranged us alphabetically within our degree. My roommate said that’s what they did at her school, too. At my sister’s college, though, they arranged everyone by major, but not in any sort of discernible order, so you couldn’t follow along in the program like you could at my school. Is this normal?

11 thoughts on “Grad Fest 2014

  1. You really did have a whirlwind graduation weekend. That’s how my weekends are going to be for the next two weeks with my brother and two cousins graduating from high school. I can’t get past the bible teacher though. I didn’t know that was a thing! I went to public school though, so maybe that has something to do with it. I’m the same way as you where teachers are people I look up to and I don’t put myself on the same level as them, but it is nice to interact out of the classroom and see them in a different light. I’d probably still see them as big scary grownups though even if we were talking about running.

    My college just went alphabetically- not difficult when there are less than 300 people in the graduating class 😉

  2. Oh wow! Congrats to your sibs on their graduations 🙂 I’m glad you were able to enjoy the festivities somewhat, and that’s awesome that you bonded over running with one of your old teachers. I’m fb friends with my AP English teacher, who I loved, and he enjoys chatting with me about running too. Kind of cool to see new sides to people who once terrified you 😉

  3. At my college they just had the different schools together so like one ceremony for the college of education one ceremony for the school of business, etc.. You can sit wherever you want and just give the announcer a card with your name on it!

    • It seems like that tends to be the standard at bigger universities. My sister and I both went relatively small colleges, so we didn’t even have individual colleges to graduate — just one! And we also did the whole card/announcer thing, but they still assigned us to seats alphabetically…though I guess that was a nice way to meet new people at the end of college? I didn’t know the people on either side of me! Haha.

  4. Bummer you got the stomach flu but I’m happy you were still able to partake of the leftovers!

    I admittedly think it’s weird that instead of finding a larger venue your sister’s school made some people watch on a video monitor. Is there just not a venue large enough in the area?

    As for my college graduation, there was one all-university one with the main commencement speaker (Charles Gibson, a news anchor from ABC. And, no, I didn’t remember that. I had to look it up) where no one’s name was called and then each college/school had their own where you got your name called (but I don’t remember what the order was). In looking up who our speaker was I found out that 2002 was the first time in almost 20 years that Miami did an all-university commencement with a “celebrity” speaker. I guess between the 1980s and 2002 they did two ceremonies with education and business having a morning ceremony and all the other schools in the afternoon.Interesting!

    • There are larger venues, but I imagine the school would rather save some $$$ and use its own facility rather than renting out the local arena (which would be WAY too big anyway). I think they’ve also always just done things that way, and I imagine they’re not particularly open to the idea of change 😛

  5. Those hot fudge sundaes are the best! My favorite thing I made up at McDonald’s is called a “McFudgy Pudgy” – I ask for an oreo McFlurry with hot fudge mixed in. Try it! You’ll never look back. That’s really cool that you bonded with your teacher. I’ve done that with a few of my high school teachers and it really is a cool thing to do – except it officially makes you feel like an old fart haha

  6. Pingback: My Bestest Fwend: A Tribute | accidental intentions

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