As 33 seniors at a homeschool nonprofit prepare to graduate, two things make this ceremony different: roses and recorded blessings from parents to their children.
As with many homeschool-related events, students lead in shaping the ceremony’s theme, schedule, and organization.
“The kids have the opportunity to learn how to work on a team, how to communicate, how to divide projects up,” said Kate Hershey, the class graduation coordinator. “Getting that real-world experience really prepares them for college, or the business world, or wherever they end up going.”
Recordings and roses
Hershey graduated with MPE in its class of 2021 and has coordinated graduations for the last two years.
“I was homeschooled from day one, and I’m very grateful for it because it afforded my family a number of opportunities,” she said. “I feel like I gained a much wider life experience as a homeschooler.”
During the school year, families record a 30-second blessing for each graduate. The recording plays as students receive diplomas from their parents.
“It really adds a lot of personality,” Hershey said. “Instead of somebody just reading off the names – they go up, grab their diploma and then they go sit back down – they have the opportunity to stand there, and even though it feels a little bit awkward, they have a few seconds to stand there and really soak it in. The parents and the kids get to have a moment.”
Hershey also described another unique aspect to the ceremony – single-stemmed roses to appreciate people named in the graduation program.
“Those roses are part of what I consider the most special parts of the ceremony,” she said. “We have everyone whose name is listed in the program stand up, and then all of the graduates have a mad rush down to the auditorium [to pass out the roses.”
“These graduates are honoring the people who have been influential throughout their lives.”
Graduates also get to make addresses, but organizers don’t choose speakers based on grades. They hold auditions instead, and this year class members chose six students.
“It’s really humbling to see these kids come in, and they’re all kind of nervous because they don’t really know each other,” Hershey said. “And then at the end of the year, you can see these kids have built friendships.”
Despite the challenges, working with graduates and seeing their growth throughout the year brings its own rewards, Hershey said.
“You hit graduation and you realize that all this is coming together, and these kids’ lives are going to be changed forever,” she said. “Being a part of that with these families, with these kids, is something that is very special to me.”