How to Plan Your Virtual Commencement Ceremony Party

Wherever you are, let’s make your Virtual Commencement celebration Champlain-centric!

Being at home, or wherever you are right now, is just not the same as being in Burlington, Vermont celebrating your college graduation with friends and family. We can’t wait until the current state of our world allows us all to reunite and celebrate together. Until then, let’s make your virtual commencement event as exciting and Champlain-centric as can be!

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to do so, along with props to help you show off this important day. After all those hours of studying and hard work, you finally did it!

And it’s time the world knows it.

Wear Your Cap and Gown

Wherever you’re watching our virtual commencement event from, we encourage you to throw on your cap and gown. (Be sure to check your email to ensure you’ve ordered them to the correct address.) The more aspects of in-person graduation you can mirror at home, the better!

You deserve to flaunt this look, and you likely already have them at the ready, so why not? Want to go the extra mile? Throw on some dress clothes under your graduation gown to really strut your stuff.

Champlain graduate wearing gown, cap, and dress clothes to celebrate the day
Christine Koogle, ’20 // Business Administration, is celebrating virtual commencement dressed in her cap and gown.

Use Props and Decorations

Members of the Class of 2020 will receive a mailer of celebratory goodies prior to May 9, including Champlain balloons! Also in the box are a few signs: One says “Let Us Dare,” and another says, “#ChampGrad.

Props included in the Champlain 2020 Graduates box for Virtual Commencement: signs, balloons, and stickers
A sneak peak into your graduation goodies, arriving in the mail soon.

One of the signs invites you to fill out one of the below prompts.

  • I wish for my fellow graduates…
  • I graduate grateful for…
  • I graduate proud of…
  • Let us dare to…

Take a selfie of yourself holding one or more of these signs or have someone take a pic of you and/or your family members holding them.

Graduate in full garb with a sign that says "I graduate grateful for the amazing faculty who have helped me come into my own."
Sarah Jerger is graduating with her master’s from Champlain College Online! Jerger is also the Director of the Champlain College Emergent Media Center.

If you are a Champlain College Online student who did not opt in to receiving this mailer, you can download these signs below.

If the weather’s nice, it’s likely you’ll venture outside to celebrate! You can tie the balloons to your mailbox and get a special Champlain College Graduate lawn sign printed from your local print shop. Below are some downloadable PDFs to use if you wish.

Virtual Commencement lawn sign with the words "Champlain College 2020 Graduate"

Think about what other props you might have laying around the house that could add to the experience! Some old birthday streamers, party hats, Champlain swag, and more. If able, think about ordering celebratory crafts from a local store that offers curbside pickup or delivery.

What’s on the Menu?

Are there certain foods and drinks that will make your celebration special?

Before you head out on your next grocery store run, plan what you’d like to eat and drink on May 9. Maybe you want to bake a cake, or some fun cupcakes. Maybe you have a favorite meal you’d like to munch on, or if snacks and apps are more your thing, this might be the perfect time to give in to your nachos and mozz sticks cravings.

Missing Vermont? Add pancakes and maple syrup to the menu, or some Cabot cheese, and top it all off with a delicious pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

While you’re in the beverage aisle, grab some sparkling apple juice or a bottle of champagne. You’ve accomplished a lot, and been through so much, and now it’s time to cheers to you!

Essential party supplies for Virtual Commencement: blue Champlain College balloon, diploma, and pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream
Add a little Vermont to your celebration with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

Celebrate the Traditional Moments

A few moments of commencement are must-haves, and these moments may mean different things to different people. If they mean a lot to you, we encourage you to actively celebrate these moments. If able, have someone record you so you can reminisce for years to come (especially if you might be unable to attend our future in-person ceremony).

  • If you’re celebrating with family or friends, take some photos—whether they’re in person or screenshots on Zoom
  • We will have one main ceremony for everyone, and then each academic division will split off for their own sub-ceremonies. Have someone hold your diploma cover, or put it across the room. When your name is called in the sub-ceremony, walk “the stage” over to your diploma, and take in the moment. (Yes, it might seem silly, but acting it out will help Commencement feel more real—even if it’s taking place in your living room).
When your name is read, take a moment to show off your well-deserved diploma.
  • Flip your tassel from right to left once Interim President Laurie Quinn confers your degree
  • Throw your cap in the air at the conclusion of the virtual event
Student throwing their graduation cap in the air for Virtual Commencement
Celebrate the traditional moments, like throwing your cap in the air.

Take Photos and Videos, and Then Post Them and Tag #ChampGrad!

There are so many possibilities for how to make your virtual commencement ceremony as exciting as possible. Share your celebration with your classmates, families, professors, Champlain staff, and the community! Snap photos of you in your cap and gown, use the balloons and signs to showcase your Champlain pride, let us know what’s on the menu, and show us pics of who you’re celebrating with—even if it’s through a Brady Bunch-like screenshot on Zoom.

Then, post your photos to Twitter or Instagram feed and tag #ChampGrad to be featured on our social media tag wall during commencement. Don’t have Instagram or Twitter? Feel free to direct message us your pictures on the @champlainedu or @champlainonline accounts, or email your photos to graduation@champlain.edu. Learn more about our social wall here.

Social media posts tagged #ChampGrad
Students, families, and friends are already sharing photos and well wishes using #ChampGrad to be featured on the social media tag wall. Join them by posting photos of your own!

Invite Your Friends and Family

Last, but certainly not least, invite your friends and family! Social distancing regulations may not allow you to invite your loved ones directly to your home, but if we’ve learned anything over the past couple months, it’s the power of Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts, or whatever other platform you prefer. Just because we’re secluded in our homes doesn’t mean we have to watch the virtual event alone. Get on the phone with your peeps, and thank them for helping you get to this moment—because it’s one you’re going to remember forever.

Adorable small dog celebrating Virtual Commencement, posing near graduation gown, cap, diploma, and a bottle of sparkling cider
Don’t forget to invite your pets, too, and include them in your photos. Photo by Madison MacMahon ’20 // Creative Media.
More Plan Your Party
How to Get Your Content Featured on the #ChampGrad Social Media Wall
How to Set Up Your Tech to Watch Champlain’s Virtual Commencement
How to Wear a Master’s Hood During Commencement