All my graduations follow a similar pattern. The students sing, the "godfather" and "godmother" of the class (sort a combination of sponsors and commencement speakers) give speeches, and then I give out diplomas and honorary first scrubs.
Then all the graduates and I pose for an eternity while the spectators takes photos.
Then the frenzy begins. Everyone wants to take individual photos with their spouses, children, their own graduation "godparents", and of course with me, their beloved professor.
Smiling for that many photos can get quite exhausting!
The best moment during the photo-athon is this: someone I have never met before grabs me, and says, "May I have a photo with you?!" And next thing I know, I'm posing with a complete stranger. I promise you, no exaggeration, this has happened at all of my six graduations.
My students always give me a "thank you" gift. It's generally an ugly picture frame or an ugly flower print. However, my students who graduated in May came up with something a little more creative.
I was relieved to discover that the giant present was not an enormous hideous picture frame, but a custom-made plaque which reads: "Class of 2014 - Miss Keziah, We will never forget you."
I think it's quite nice. But all of my Haitian friends reminded me that the students' choice of words is precisely what people put on the banners that get hung in a church or neighborhood whenever a well-known personage has died. "We will never forget you." We now refer to it as my death plaque.
It generally takes me 2 months to realize that my students are no longer new, and that I actually like them a lot. By the time I have this revelation, class is almost over and graduation is bittersweet. Most of these students I will not see again, and if I do, it won't be the same because we won't be in the camaraderie of the classroom. Now I have to break in a new group of students who I most certainly do not like yet. Oh, well. Give me another 2 months and the whole cycle will repeat.
Congratulations to all my students -- to all my graduates!