A major ritual many college level students have observed and participated in is high school graduation. This ritual is formal and not in an ordinary day-to-day life. This ritual was in the setting of an amphitheatre near the town that my high school was in. The events leading up to this day included 12 years of schooling, receiving a grade high enough to pass each class, taking tests, and purchasing a cap and gown. All of this had to happen in order to be a graduate. There were others at this ritual including family, friends, television broadcasters, and teachers. Some of these observers to the graduation have not completed the same steps as the graduates had. The event consisted of the graduates walking down to their seats to a song that was slow and calm. Then, there were speeches from teachers, community role models, and the three graduates that had the best grades in the class. There were also performances by the high school’s choir and two graduates singing a coming-of-age song. Towards the end, each graduate is called on stage to receive a diploma and shake the hands of the principal and other important figures of the school. The general atmosphere of the event was excited and meaningful. The graduates were excited to be done with high school and the observers were proud and happy for the graduates. The graduates are required to wear a cap and gown. The cap consists of a tight fitting headpiece and a flat square piece on top that holds a place for a tassel to hang down. The gown is like a long loose-fitting robe that is zipped in the front. Girls and boys wore different colors, but there were only two colors, blue and white, worn. The observers wore business casual clothing. All the speakers used formal language without slang or inappropriate terms.
The ceremony happens in order to congratulate the graduates. It is a celebration of completing the mandatory level of schooling in the United States. Graduates are transformed due to this ritual because it signifies them going into the adult world. They are supposed to take on higher levels of responsibility and begin paving their own way. The community is strengthened because they are receiving a group of adults that are ready to contribute to society in some way. They also feel that the graduates blend well with the adults and can understand each other on a greater basis. To the participants this ritual means they are no longer children that are allowed to completely rely on their parents. They are moving on into the adult world where they will have more responsibility and freedom. They are officially free from mandatory school and can pick their next path. High school graduation is a rite of passage because it changes the graduate’s status from student to whatever their next step will be. They may continue on to be a student, but it is a completely different kind of student than before. Graduates are functioning with closure because they are getting support from the observers to move onto their next step. Stressing new responsibility is happening because they are told to move on to college or start working a full-time job. Graduation ceremonies also help aid in readjustment because graduating high school can be scary, but the ceremony makes it seem fun and exciting helping the graduates to adjust. High school graduation is a huge ritual that happens all over the world and is extremely important in many lives.