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Celebrating Diversity At Graduation: Three Ways Your School Can Be Inclusive At Commencement

Graduation is a time to celebrate your students' successes, and part of that means celebrating who they are. Incorporating ideas that celebrate diversity can be a great way to make your school's commencement ceremony feel more inclusive. Here are some options to consider as you plan the graduation celebration.

Diversity Sashes

Give students the option to purchase graduation sashes that represent who they are or where they come from. For students who are immigrants or who are the children of immigrants, this might mean choosing a sash with the flag that represents their country of origin. Students who have autism might choose a sash with puzzle pieces to represent the widely recognized symbol for autism. You can also give LGBTQ students the option to select a rainbow flag sash to celebrate their community. Work with local companies to create a collection of custom sashes for students to choose from, and ask students for their input on which designs they might like to see most.

Hire An Interpreter

If your student body contains a large percentage of students whose parents speak another language, consider making the ceremony bilingual. You can hire a translator, or if you have a student who is qualified and trustworthy, you can have him or her participate in the ceremony. Work with your faculty to device a program that leaves enough time for each part of the ceremony to be presented in both languages. For the commencement speeches, consider having speakers of both languages deliver separate speeches to make everyone feel included.

Create Inclusive Programs

When preparing the programs for your commencement ceremony, consider adding information about just how diverse your student body is. Dedicate a few pages to discussing where your students come from and how much their diverse backgrounds enrich your school. You might even choose to highlight a few notable seniors who remain active in their communities or who have display exemplary academic records. Parents and students alike can feel proud to see themselves represented in your school's graduation ceremony. You can also use this idea for any audio/visual presentations you might incorporate into the ceremony as well. A tribute to diversity or a simple video highlighting some of the things your school has done to make its campus more inclusive can be great options for your commencement ceremony.

Be sure to get input from the students as you make plans. Your diverse student population can help you make sure everything about the ceremony is respectful of their cultures and communities while also letting them know they always have a seat at the table.