Principal Helpline: Moving Up Ceremonies—How Much is Too Much?

How to celebrate accomplishments, without spoiling senior graduation.

moving up ceremonies


“Graduation season is just about over. In my district, we had kindergarten graduation, fifth grade graduation (to middle school), eighth grade graduation (to high school), and, of course, senior graduation. I’m an elementary principal, and now teachers in my school want to add moving up ceremonies next year for each grade 1-4 as well. Is all this necessary?”


Necessary? No. Appreciated by kids and parents? Absolutely!

I attended my share of graduations and moving up ceremonies this past month. Every one of them was packed with parents, relatives, and friends. The elementary ceremonies were held during the day and many parents took off work to attend.

The kindergartners wore little caps and gowns and sang a couple of songs, one of them with sign language.

In grades 1-4, the principal said a few words about how wonderful the kids were and how hard they had worked over the school year. Each child stood when his/her name was called and proud parents snapped pictures.


The fifth graders, moving to middle school next year, were finishing up six years at elementary. The orchestra played, and the chorus sang. The kids stood up when their name was called. At the end was a slide show featuring a picture of each kid as a baby or toddler followed by a picture of him or her today. At the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Middle school was less personal (unfortunately), but nearly every kid attended and received a certificate.  The ceremony was held in the gym in the evening, and families whooped and hollered when their student’s name was called.

High school graduation followed the traditional format and there was more whooping and hollering.

All of these ceremonies were joyful reminders that the adults in the community value their children’s education. Kids had a moment to shine and parents and relatives had a chance to support their child and their school. In addition, these ceremonies buy a lot of good will for the school and the district.

So I would say, that if you have a group of teachers who want to organize moving up ceremonies for kids and their families next year, give them your support. Be grateful that teachers care enough to put in the extra effort, and be present for each and every celebration!

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