The Morning Thing salutes High School Graduates! Congratulations!

grads throwing capsThursday, 5/21/15 – a day to honor High School Graduates

Congratulations to our local graduates.
Here is a schedule of upcoming graduations:
Fredericktown – Friday, 5/22
Mount Vernon – Sunday, 5/24
East Knox – Friday, 5/29
Centerburg and Danville – Saturday, 5/30

We shared the history of America’s graduation traditions.
by Emily Hull

As area high school seniors prepare to graduate this week, the traditions of the graduation ceremony that have existed for generations will be put into practice yet again. But what exactly are the origins of all these traditions? When was “Pomp and Circumstance” written? What’s up with those gowns? Who came up with tossing the graduation caps? And why do graduates move their tassel from one side to the other?

I decided to do some research on the history of graduation customs to understand why these traditions have remained over the years.

Pomp and Circumstance

Also known as “Land of Hope and Glory” was written in Sir Edward Elgar in 1901. The title of “Pomp and Circumstance” comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Othello, “Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!” In 1902, lyrics were written by poet and essayist Arthur Christopher Benson to celebrate the crowning of King Edward the VII.

It first became associated with graduation ceremonies in 1905 when Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Yale University and it was played. Other schools such as Princeton and Columbia picked up the tune as well, before it spread to nearly every college and university in the U.S. Today the piece is often played as processional or recessional music for commencement ceremonies across the country. It has become so widely used that it’s rare to attend a graduation event without it.

Cap and Gown

The outfit that signifies a graduate is the traditional cap and gown. The use of the graduation gown began in the 12th century. At this time no sufficient heating systems existed in universities. Therefore scholars were forced to try and keep warm during their ceremonies. Graduates started wearing long robes with hoods to prevent being cold. Later on in that century gowns were made the official attire of academics.

Today, it is custom in most high schools that males wear the school color, while female students wear white. The gown should fall midway between the knee and ankle.

The graduation cap also has roots in this time period. The cap is sometimes called a mortarboard because of the resemblance it has to a tool used by masons to hold mortar. The caps became popular in the 14th and 15th centuries and were worn my artists and students. These hats were used to signify superiority and intelligence. At this time the caps were commonly red in color to signify blood and life.

Caps vary in color depending upon the institution today. In present day commencement ceremonies, the cap should be worn flat on the head and parallel to the floor. The front point of the cap should be centered on the forehead.
cap and gown

Tossing of the Cap

The throwing of the graduation cap in the air is a tradition that was started by the Naval Academy in 1912. Prior to the graduation of 1912, graduates of the academy were required to serve two years in the fleet as midshipmen before being commissioned as Navy officers, therefore they still needed their hats. The class of 1912 was commissioned from the time of graduation and received their officers hats, thus their hats were no longer needed, leaving the graduates free to toss their caps into the air and not worry about getting them back.

The tradition then caught on at other institutions throughout the country. Now the action is regarded as a symbolic gesture of the end of a chapter in a graduate’s life.


Turning of the Tassel

The use of a tassel adorning a graduation cap only started in the last 40 to 50 years. The tassel was originally designed to decorate the graduates cap during the ceremony but it has come to have symbolism as well.

The gesture of moving the tassel from one side of the cap to the other symbolizes the individual’s movement from candidate to graduate. Prior to the ceremony the tassel is expected to be worn on the right. During the ceremony it should be moved to the left side after students receive their diploma. This custom is practiced in educational institutions nationwide.

When you attend a high school graduation ceremony this week or weekend look out for all the traditions that are in place. Notice any other school specific customs designed to celebrate a new chapter in a graduate’s life. Congratulations to all the graduates on their accomplishments!


Read More: Graduation Ceremony Traditions and History |

We also shared some advice for the high school graduates.
Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School
By Thorin Klosowski

With graduation looming, it’s the time of year when we all tend to reminisce about high school. For a lot of us, that means thinking about all the things we did wrong after tossing those caps into the air. Here are a few pieces of advice I wish someone had passed down to me.

High school itself is often a battlefield that’s tough to get through. Once you graduate, you’re left staring back blankly at one of the first major accomplishments in your life. Now’s the time when teachers tell you to go for your dream college. Parents are push you toward that medical degree. Friends are urge you to get stoned and tour Europe. I remember spending that summer after graduation stressed, frustrated, and confused. So now, years later, here is the wisdom I wish someone had given me.

You Don’t Have to Go to College Right Away

We’ve already talked about when college does and doesn’t matter, and even how to make the most out of those college years. But going to college immediately after high school isn’t for everyone. For a lot of people, it’s a good idea to give yourself a year (or a few) before deciding whether or not you want to go to school. In fact, of the people I know who’ve graduated college, the majority who finished in four years didn’t even start until their early 20s.

It seems like most parents and counselors say that if you don’t start college immediately after graduating, you won’t start at all. In my experience, that’s not true. The people I know who waited a few years after high school started college just fine, didn’t switch majors a bunch, and were “adult” enough to beeline their way through school without a lot of trouble.

I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to chill out and wait before starting college. Contrary to what everyone told me, the world would not have ended, I would not have ended up living on the streets addicted to drugs, and I wouldn’t have had to move back into my parents house because I was directionless. It would have been fine and I would have wasted less time in school.

It’s Okay to Not Know Your Major

Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School

Before I started school, I spent months deciding between majoring in graphic design or political science. I chose graphic design. I did that for a semester before realizing it wasn’t my thing, then transferred schools and started a political science program. I did that for a couple of years before moving over to creative writing. I graduated seven years later with 40 more credits than I needed and a pretty solid case of burnout. I had no idea what I wanted to do and nobody told me it’d be okay to take some time off or just skip declaring a major until I figured things out.

This is a story I’ve heard from countless others, including our own Andy Orin, who adds:

I was apprehensive about having to choose a major, which seemed like a decision that would affect the course of my entire life. It didn’t matter.

You don’t have to know what you want to major in. You don’t need to pick it right away. You certainly don’t need to worry that much about it. There’s a pretty good chance you won’t even end up in a career that you reflects your college major, so don’t expect it to change the course of your life. It’s important to study something you actually like, but in the end it’s not necessarily going to make that much of a difference to where you end up.

Crappy Jobs Are Still Worth Doing Well

Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School

We like to think that after you finish high school you’ll move onto bigger and better jobs. Gone are those days of standing behind the counter at Dairy Queen or washing dishes at the pizza restaurant. But most of us continued those menial jobs well after high school and throughout college. That said, no matter how stupid and pointless those jobs are, they’re worth doing well.

It’s easy to slack off at crappy job and not care about it, but that has a serious effect on you in a lot of ways. On the most obvious level, it makes you lazy. It might not seems like it matters, but the longer you spend slacking off at a crappy job, the bigger effect it has on you for jobs in the future.

Even the crappiest job fosters friendships and partnerships. Through my pointless, minimum wage jobs in my late teens and early 20s I met many of my lifelong friends, creative partners, and people who’ve helped me with further employment. I can guarantee that if I’d been a lazy employee those friendships would not have endured. It’s a cliche, but how you handle bad situations—like a minimum wage job—reflects on you as a person. It’s worth doing well and you might be surprised at what you learn.

Don’t Lose Touch with Friends and Family (But Make New Friends)

Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School

I went to a small high school in the Colorado mountains, and despite the fact my graduating class was a mere 80 people, I’ve kept in contact with none of them outside of Facebook. Over the years, I’ve touched base with a few friends from high school, but nothing substantial came of it. For the most part, I’ve been okay with this. Still, our own Melanie Pinola points out that fostering those relationships is important:

Try to stay in touch with your high school friends. It’s all too easy to let each other drift apart. They might be the most meaningful friendships you’ve developed so far, and could last well into later decades (when it’s harder to make good friends).

Likewise, if you have siblings and you’re going to different schools now or exploring separate paths, don’t forget to check in with them often. We get so busy with our college lives or work (and coming home for the holidays isn’t enough to catch up)

My experience was different. I’d argue that it’s more important to forge new friendships now that you’re away from high school. I spent the days immediately after high school forcing old high school friendships that didn’t work because I didn’t know what else to do. Whitson Gordon suggests a nice balance between making and keeping friends:

It’s fine to keep your relationships with your high school friends—In my case, those are the ones that really lasted. But especially for your first few weeks of college, try to make new friends and let your high school buddies do the same. Meet the people in your dorm, and make it a point to hang out with them—even if they aren’t the kind of people you’ll be friends with for life (or even through college), you’ll be a lot happier with a few buddies at the beginning.

So, like most things—it’s about figuring out what’s right for you. I wish someone had just told me that it’s acceptable to cut those old ties and make new friendships. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time hanging out with people from high school who I didn’t get along with. That said, if you have great relationships with friends in high school, keep those people around as long as you can.

Ask Questions

Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me After Graduating High School

After graduating high school I thought I was a pretty smart guy. The truth is, I was at the height of my stupidity (hopefully) and I knew nothing. That pretension is a dangerous thing.

Between the ages of 18-20, I didn’t ask questions. I went on my way through life thinking I knew how the world worked. I didn’t ask questions in school. I didn’t ask questions at work. I didn’t ask girlfriends the questions a boyfriend should ask. I didn’t ask friends questions about things they knew more about than me. Looking back on those years, I’m not sure why I was this way. I think it came from the idea that I wanted to come across as being intelligent, so I didn’t want to reveal that I didn’t know anything.

Now I know that one of the best signs of intelligence is curiosity. The more questions you ask, the more intelligent you become. Ask questions about how things work. Ask why they work. Ask why they don’t work. Ask where things come from. Just ask as many questions as you can about everything. You’re going to make a ton of mistakes as a teenager, in your 20s, and beyond. Make sure you train yourself now to ask the right questions so that you can learn from them.

Photos by Guigaamartins, SMBC, Quinn Dombrowski, Pascal, Riza Nugraha, William Murphy.




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