Graduation or Moving Up Ceremonies

With the end of the school year approaching, many families are worried about how to celebrate milestones in their children’s lives while maintaining physical distancing. It is important to acknowledge that missing celebrations for things like transitioning to a new school or graduating is a loss, and it is normal for them to feel sad and anxious about having normal parts of their lives disrupted.

It is important to find ways to individually and publicly honor students' efforts and academic achievements, while continuing to maintain physical distancing. Below are talking points around safe celebrations and resources for how to support their mental health and wellbeing.

They are probably struggling with missing their friends and family.

Having to maintain physical distance from friends and family is really hard. Missing milestones and having to cancel plans are real losses. Remember that, while they are being asked to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others, it does not mean they have to decrease their social connections with friends and family.

They might be feeling anxious, stressed, and depressed.

It is understandable to feel anxiety, panic, and depression when everything has been disrupted. They may feel discouraged worrying about how COVID-19 can affect their future or how it has affected other people. When they are overwhelmed, it is important for them to be able to talk to a trusted adult. This adult should listen, answer questions, and help them problem solve ways to get additional support.

Some signs they may be overwhelmed include:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety, or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Irritability, anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

How can I celebrate traditions such as transitions between schools or graduations and maintain physical distancing?

  • Schedule a virtual recognition ceremony and invite family and friends to tune in via video chat.
  • Invite friends and family to drive (and honk) by your house in honor of them, honoring physical distancing.
  • Create a large collage of photos of them through the years, and use it to wallpaper the front door of your house. You could also do a digital photo frame or a photo wreath.
  • Put together a scrapbook of their achievements over the years.
  • Display a yard sign to honor them.
  • Prepare their favorite meal and have the whole family dress up for the occasion.
  • Circulate an announcement to remind family and friends that they are celebrating an achievement, in case they want to send a card or gift to mark the occasion.
  • Have friends and family submit short videos full of well wishes for them.
  • Reschedule celebrations to a time in the future when physical distancing measures may be relaxed.

Supporting their mental health and wellbeing

Doing what we love can help us manage stress. This can be either their favorite hobbies or something new. Some ideas you can share with them are:

  • Reading books or doing artwork.
  • Listening to podcasts or watching movies or shows.
  • Getting outside and taking a walk, going on a bike ride, or going for a run.
  • Cooking or baking.
  • Learning a new TikTok dance.

Mental health and wellbeing resources

If they need additional support, here are some resources you can share:

  • If you are feeling upset about cancelled events and miss being around friends, your feelings are valid. You are allowed to feel what you are feeling while still caring about your health. Crisis Text Line is there for you no matter what emotions you are feeling. To reach a crisis counselor, text OREGON to 741741.
  • You can contact Benton County’s Crisis Line at 1-888-232-7192.
  • Benton County Counselor of the Day is available for anyone in crisis and needing to talk with a therapist or counselor immediately. Please call 541-766-6835.