As the summer approaches, so does the season of graduation ceremonies. I helped usher at one the other day for the educational institute that I work for . It is a wonderful occasion for graduates and their families to commemorate meeting the requirements of graduation and setting forth into the world with official documentation that shows they now know something about something. I love to assist with this event because the celebratory spirit that accompanies it is intoxicating. And it is so powerful to watch the sea of black as the robed candidates make their way in the processional, to their reserved seats at the front of the auditorium.
It was the perfect occasion to put on my “Civility” hat and take note of the behaviour of those around me. I’m always surprised at how courteous people can be but also at how much others still need to learn about it. Respect should be the number one thing on everyone’s mind on such an occasion. For graduates, you are the centre of attention. People are looking to you with adoration and admiration. Be excited but be gracious. Rudely snapping at officials who are trying to organize the processional line up, isn’t nice, nor appropriate. Besides, you never know who may be scouting out talent for future employment and making a bad impression on such an important day may cost you more than you think.
For guests, respect the graduates hard-earned recognition by turning off the cell and leaving the business texting for another, more appropriate time. This is their moment. Show your appreciation by being there for them, not only in body but spirit and emotion also. And talking throughout an award winner’s acceptance speech is unacceptable. Even though that student may not be the one you came to see, they are up there for a reason and should have your undivided attention. You may be surprised at what you learn from him/her.