Superintendents like to talk about all of the challenges with their jobs; of which there are many. However, when asked about the aspects of the role they enjoy most, graduation ceremonies probably rank very high for most school leaders. Graduation marks the culmination of what students have experienced in your school district, and, as it is that season of high school commencements, it’s a time for reflection.
As I attend graduations, I hope that we have done all we can to truly prepare students for a post-secondary world. As they matriculate though elementary, middle and then high school, have we ensured that they can start college, fully ready and not needing remediation? Do they have opportunities to pursue highly skilled careers and/or advance in a military program? These are worthy areas for all superintendents to ponder as that should be our primary focus leading a school district.
However, before superintendents can embrace all of the trappings of the graduation ceremonies, they should ask themselves: Have necessary preparations have been made to ensure a high-quality event? Have board members and significant honored guests been invited and instructed on what to wear; what are the seating arrangements on stage and how they will interact with graduates? Have all parts of the program been vetted and have safety protocols been considered? It did not go unnoticed that we were literally starting a graduation ceremony last year when the Uvalde school shooting occurred. We acknowledged this tragedy before starting the program, but it still serves to reinforce that we must always be vigilant about protecting our students, staff and parents.
While all of these things are probably top of mind for most superintendents it is also important to take the opportunity to truly enjoy this amazing experience. I love being on the stage, hearing highlights from the year and achievements from a graduating class. And, I love shaking hands; every single one. The moment, we get to be a part of, to look every graduate in the eye, and wish them well is such an honor and privilege. For superintendents, it really is, the most wonderful time of the year.