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Opinions Tue, 2 Jul 2013

Of Graduates, Graduation & Graduation Ceremonies

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview MS, Toronto

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”-B. C. Forbes

The month of June every year brings to an end the academic year in most countries around the world. This special month of the year also marks ‘Father’s Day’ which is also celebrated worldwide. Let me use this opportunity to congratulate fathers throughout the world. I also appeal to all families to ‘Let Fathers be Fathers!’ Now let’s briefly look at June as the month of graduation ceremonies.

Graduation is a benchmark of student achievement, and therefore it is NOT wrong to celebrate such success in grand style at every ‘growth’ on the educational ladder! June every year see most graduation ceremonies in Canada.

Others refer to graduation as ‘the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the ceremony that is sometimes associated, where students become Graduates. Before the graduation, candidates are referred to as Graduands.’ Graduation ceremonies usually include a procession of the academic staff and candidates.

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In the United States, besides "commencement," the term "graduation" is also used in schools below university level such as the high school, middle school and even kindergarten and preschool ceremonies.

In Japan, graduation ceremonies are in March followed by entrance ceremonies in April. This coincides with the Japanese school calendar and the Japanese government fiscal year. Graduation is also related to the changing of the seasons and is often reflected in the ceremony decor and related advertising (i.e. new uniforms, backpacks, school supplies...).

In our motherland, Ghana, less or no attention is given to graduation ceremonies until one reaches the tertiary level of education. Whatever understanding you have for graduation, graduation ceremonies officially mark the ‘growth’ that a student attains at different levels of his/her education journey; and graduates from one level (specially High School) to higher level (such as College or University) should not be complacent of their ‘growth’ and rest on their oars as they journey on! Graduation is a ‘growth’ that comes with responsibility.

Graduation comes by hard work, perseverance and determination. I personally see graduation ceremonies as befitting ways of honoring such virtues. Obviously, many females in our Ghanaian community in particular and the Black community in Canada as a whole graduate from universities and colleges more than the males. However, Black male students are succeeding despite the negative indicators of schooling. We should therefore do all that is possible to encourage both Black female and male students to stay in school and work hard towards their graduations.

Once again, I take this opportunity to congratulate all graduates of 2013. May the Good God be your guide as you move on to either further your studies or enter the workforce.

Columnist: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley
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