GRADUATION HINTS/INFORMATION IDEAS!
2017 GA Parents, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know in many ways you thought this day would never get here; and on the flipside, you are amazed at how fast the last four years have flown by!!!
Disclaimer: Graduation changes every year. This is what we did for our graduation in 2014. Do what works for YOUR family!! Do not feel you need to do all the bells and whistles. My biggest advice is to let your guests decided where to be and when, and you just worry about your immediate family and relish every second of every moment. Take lots of pictures as this event is a once in a lifetime celebration! Enjoy this fabulous, marvelous, breath-taking, once-in-a-lifetime experience of USAFA graduation!!! Kim Taylor (Chris, USAFA 2007, AF Test Pilot School, Libby, USAFA 2014, UPT Columbus AFB, graduates in April!)
Graduation Goodie bags: Here is what I did in 2014 for my guests (one per family). Besides the graduation booklet, a personalized Tervis water bottle (helps to be the distributor -- hahahaha!) and one photo button per guest, I included:
water bottle (24 oz. or less)
Sunscreen (got at dollar store)
rain ponchos (dollar store)
personalized coozie (friend ordered a bunch, custom to 2014)
aspirin packets (got off amazon individual packets)
fans (fold up kind, patriotic, from Oriental trading company)
lotion (dollar store)
packet of Kleenex
candy, mints, some other snacks like peanut butter crackers
More graduation information! We ordered this banner (cannot remember where, got it on-line for wherever I found best price). We put it out at my sister's house prior to the graduation party AND then took it back home to Peachtree City and put it up in our yard for a couple of weeks so all our neighbors could see how proud we were of our USAFA grad!!!
We got these buttons from wackybuttons.com and the design code they created is 3706135 (this was in 2014). I ordered 35 of the 3 inch buttons with the plain pin back, I used the coupon "moreoff" and paid a grand total of $32 which includes shipping. GREAT PRICE. Our guests loved wearing these and my daughter thought it was a crack-up! Something else I put in their goodie bags! I used red stars since my daughter's class was red - my son's year some folks did yellow stars for yellow class.
This gave a schedule of events, times to be there (always early!), suggested outfits, security regulations, etc. etc. Plus it had just a lot of extra information about USAFA which our guests loved to read in the waiting periods for the events.
Here is what we did for our daughter, contains lots of pictures, schedule of events, info on academy, etc. It is TOO BIG to attach to the file folder on FB (tried last year) but if you send me your email address, I will forward the pdf to you via drop box (too big to email). You can cut and paste if you want to use this. Please email me if you want a copy and in which format, pdf or dropbox. This is in the Publisher program so if you have that, you can easily cut and paste your stuff in and not recreate the wheel.
AGAIN, this is how things worked in 2014. You know how everything changes from year to year so this may not all be pertinent anymore. I know they have changed to 3 swearing in ceremony periods instead of 2 like we had.
GRADUATION PARADE HINTS
Some hints from 2014:
The graduation parade will be PACKED!! I highly recommend you get there early!! We were the first ones in 2014 and of course had our pick of seats! hahaha!! We loved seeing the sunrise and just enjoying the ambiance of all things AFA on that beautiful morning!!! Watching the flag come up with taps was a real tear jerker.....
Bring a big umbrella for the wait -- we certainly folded up the umbrellas once any sort of on-field activities started but they were a life-saver for sunburn! (it was sunny the whole time for us)
Freeze water bottles over night and bring them -- they will stay cold and you don't want to be standing in lines to fill them up at the water facilities once the parade activities start!
Do NOT sit on the front row -- all the wheelchairs, strollers, etc. will totally block your view! Plus late arrivals will stand in front of you looking for seats (there won't be any!) and block your view.
If you get there early and they don't have the ropes up yet, remember that both sides of the stands next to the center will be roped off for VIPs -- if you sit there early, you will be told to move when the ropes go up.
Late arrivals will eventually sit in on the stairs next to you if you are on the end -- technically not allowed since it is a safety issue but the sheer numbers will overwhelm security police. If you are on the end, make sure you tell them they are NOT to stand up to take pictures when you are also trying to take pictures -- you were there first to ensure those great pictures and they need to be cognizant of that.
When your cadet is marching away from the squadron and towards the stand, take LOTS of pictures -- once they get in place, they will pivot back toward the rest of the wing and then you just get the back of their heads.
As soon as allowed, head straight out to the field and have your cameras ready -- your cadet will want pictures of their buddies and of course all your family and guests -- even if they whine, they will treasure the pictures forever so keep taking them! This is also your last chance to get pictures of them WITH their hats (as they throw them at graduation) so keep shooting those photos -- and if you want a picture of them in their parade uniform with hat in front of their class crest on the wall up on the T'zo, this is also the time to walk up there and take it! (class crest comes down the next day)
After the parade was also a good time for our cadet to take family and friends on a tour of the Academy grounds, show them their room, etc. Many of our guests were at USAFA for the first time and they were fascinated! Our cadet was probably in a million more pictures as they walked around the T'zo in those spiffy uniforms with their very proud family and guests! (heard that some of this may have changed in '15 and '16 so if you have other information different than mine, trust the new information!)
One other BIG HINT! Make sure your cadet is cleaning out their room and whittling down their belongings now -- they and you will be surprised how much stuff they have collected over the last four years! (and this includes males, not just females!) You do not want to be one of those panicked parents helping your cadet get everything out last minute when you should be enjoying the event and your guests! You will be shocked at how much cadets just throw out last minute since they are out of time and out of space (other younger cadets love it and call it treasure hunt time with all that is tossed or forgotten or just abandoned.......
I will send another email in a couple of days with graduation hints for the actual ceremony!
I am sure other parents have additional advice and hints and hopefully they will add on to this.
Will add a few more hints in the upcoming days!
Again, congratulations! Kim Taylor
Kim was sweet enough to provide a copy of the booklet she put together. Great idea for those attending and a nice keepsake as well. This is in PDF format.
Photos of the items she talked about.