Marcia Miller's Reflections & Resources

Create Your Own Graduation Party

Reilly, Sarah, Ben, Taylor, Tanner

After years and years of homeschooling together, five families from our local homeschool group decided it would be fun to throw a graduation party for our lovely young adults.  We thought it would be a nice way to commemorate all the big and small experiences they’ve shared with each other over the years.

Each of them has explored the world in their own ways, finding their own paths, learning and growing toward adulthood.  They’ve studied a variety of different topics, focused on their own independent projects, and pursued their own passions throughout their teen years.  Because of this, holding some sort of formal or traditional graduation ceremony was not something any of us had planned on or felt necessary.  Then at some point earlier in the year, a couple of them thought it would be meaningful to create a personalized graduation, or coming of age ceremony, and after sharing a few ideas with the others, they all decided to join in the fun.

This was such a great way for our families to collaborate and create something memorable for ourselves.  We started by brainstorming simple elements that were important to each individual or family.  We decided on the following details to create a simple gathering: an informal ceremony followed by a relaxed open house for family and friends, a slide show of favorite photographs, personalized diplomas, a speaker who knew them and could relate to their unique experiences, graduation caps (but no gowns), fun and meaningful music, a potluck meal, a home-made cake, and time for socializing and badminton in the back yard.  It sounds like a lot, but everyone contributed a little, and our efforts went a long way.

The photos we took give the best view of some of the special moments during the party.  Each family took time to say a few words, and it’s easy to see the love and attachments that have formed over the years.  Here’s to creating our own home grown celebrations!


Ben is here with Evan, a longtime mentor and staff member from Not Back To School Camp. Ben and his friends asked Evan to speak during the graduation ceremony.

As a fun, memorable addition to the celebration, Don carved wooden ‘graduation’ spoons for each of the graduates.  There’s a bit of history to this from Sarah’s family.  When Sarah was younger, she asked how she would know when she was graduated.  At the time, Larisa told her that when the time came, she would use a favorite magic wand-like spoon, tap her on the head, and declare her graduated.  We all loved the idea, and so Don decided to carve special graduation spoons for each of them.  Just to make it official.

Becca and Michael are presenting Reilly’s home-grown personalized diploma. A few of us enjoyed adding a bit of whimsical content to some of the diplomas along with the more predictable content.

Don is reading a specially chosen quote for Ben.

 “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”    ~ Robert A. Heinlein

Larisa and Sarah share the back story about the idea behind the graduation spoons.

Kevin and Taylor share an emotional embrace after he hands her her diploma.  (Yes, all the work you’re doing to build strong attachments with your children is very worthwhile.)

Nina and Tanner have some fun with the graduation spoon ceremony.

Ben with his spoon and diploma

 The day before the party, a few of the kids got together to make some special cakes!

Don, Steve, and Thornton, from their band, ThorNton Creek, played music for part of the evening. Ben has been listening to their music for most of his life, so it was a fitting tribute for them to help us celebrate.

 This is Reilly’s delighted reaction when she realizes the band is playing one of her favorite U2 songs in her honor.

 A wonderful day for mother and son!

Kevin, Nina, and I enjoy a warm moment together after a full day of celebrations and many years of sharing our homeschooling adventures together.

Tanner, Ben, Josh, and Hayden have also shared many years of homeschooling experiences together. It’s delightful to have watched them grow up together.

Graduation party badminton!  The kids wanted to enjoy a relaxed gathering with friends and family…so they did!

Lots of time for celebratory family photos! Aadrial came up from Portland to support Ben and share the weekend with us.

Years and years of wonderful homeschooling experiences with a lovely and meaningful culminating party for Reilly, Ben, Sarah, Tanner, and Taylor.

 A final photo of the five fabulous families!

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