by Kate Whittle
Here in Missoula, a town dominated by the presence of the university, graduation day is a big deal. Perhaps you are graduating, after working hard/hardly working for a long four/six/23 years, or perhaps you know someone who is. Families are in town. Commencement is an event that, unlike a lot of things you learned in college, you'll remember the rest of your life.
Here we compile some handy Dos and Don'ts to make your, or someone else's, graduation day just that much more special. These examples may or may not be based on actual events, circa 2011.
Do: Check the weather and dress appropriately. It's May in Montana. If it's going to be windy/rainy, forget the cute dress and sandals you were planning on wearing and find some pants. And bring extra pins to keep your cap on. Also, those graduation caps do not provide shade and you'll be sitting in the sun for the entire ceremony. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen.
Do: Make sure your family is wearing proper shoes. If your family is from rural Montana and more accustomed to driving than walking, insist that they all bring comfy tennis shoes for being on campus and getting to Washington-Grizzly Stadium for the ceremony.
Do: Figure out ahead of time where the family will eat lunch in between the big morning ceremony and the smaller department afternoon events. Downtown will be packed and every restaurant will be busy, so have a game plan.
Do: Go all-out with the party. When it comes to post-graduation parties, it's fun to organize a small backyard shindig in advance. Or find a few fellow graduates who are willing to combine events, making for one big party with enough strange people to force your family to be polite and mingle.
Don't: Drink too much at your graduation party. It's tempting, because there's a ton of good booze purchased on parental dime, but you do not want to get too drunk in front of your mom, who is having a bad day because it was so windy and her feet hurt.
Do: Bring your mom glasses of water and slow down her drinking, or she might quaff one too many Blue Moons and, in a misunderstanding that will be memorable for years to come, mistake one of your friends for your ex-boyfriend and try to punch him.
Do: Chill out. Even if your graduation is kind of a disaster, remember that in a few short years, it will all be hilarious, and you will still have a diploma that is sort of useful.