The cost of graduationFor hundreds of area high school students, the culmination of thirteen years of schooling officially closes today, and for some, planning for the big day starts well in advance.
For hundreds of area high school students, the culmination of thirteen years of schooling officially closes today, and for some, planning for the big day starts well in advance.
“Their first day of school mom took a picture of them, their first dance, their first kiss, their first breakup, all firsts,” said Tom Babcock, sales representative for Jostens, a provider of graduate gear such as caps, gowns and invitations. “Well, senior year is their first last, their last year in school. It’s different because it’s an end of a chapter, and hopefully we’re just trying to make it a beginning to better their future.”
About 220 students will graduate from Dickinson High School today and the planning process began the first day of their senior year.
“I get started right when school starts, kind of based on prior years,” Babcock said, adding he stops at Dickinson schools in September.
Babcock said he stops at about 75 schools across the state, starting the first day of school.
From senior pictures, generally taken the summer prior to a student’s last year, to invitations and catering, graduation preparations can take on many different forms and can span the entire final school year.
Helen Rummel, who assists with graduation preparations at DHS, said a lot of students make their own invitations.
Babcock said he receives phone calls even in the few days prior to graduation from students and parents looking to purchase a cap and gown.
Class rings are delivered the end of October, but may not be as popular as they once were.
Babcock estimates about 50 to 60 percent of students order class rings, a number he thinks is less than years past.
“I think back in the heyday ... in the late ’60s through the ’70s, I would say that number was probably 85, 90 percent,” Babcock said.
Graduation gear is not the only item on many graduate’s lists.
Dan’s Supermarket Bakery Manager Lani Barber said graduation season is the bakery’s busiest time of year, over any holiday.
“During the weekend graduation season we do 125 to 150 (orders),” Barber said, adding that number is produced within three days.
Barber said cakes and cupcakes are generally ordered two to three weeks in advance and some orders had to be turned away because they are so busy.
However, it is hard to estimate just how much money is spent on graduation, and Babcock said he has seen as little as $8 spent — the cost of just the tassle — and it only goes up from there.
A cap, gown and tassle costs students $25, while rings can cost hundreds.
“Some students don’t spend much if anything and some spend quite a bit,” Babcock said. “Some of the students have a lot of pride and they’re pretty excited about it and some, a little lackadaisical. It all depends on the attitude of the student and the parent, whether or not they feel that graduation is as important as it is. It’s a must.”
Dickinson resident Sharon Wallace is one of those parents that invested in the day.
Wallace’s daughter, Stephanie Wallace, is graduating from DHS today with plans to attend Dickinson State University to major in nursing.
Sharon Wallace said with all that encompasses graduation, the process could start junior year of high school with scholarship applications.
Wallace said there are several deadlines to meet during graduation preparations, from submitting a senior and baby picture to the school to sending out invitations.
“It came so fast this year,” Wallace said. “You always think you have more time and in no time here it comes.”
Along with friends and family members, the Wallace’s will be having a graduation party for their daughter and plan to serve deep-fried turkey and shredded beef sandwiches.
“I think it can fit any budget depending on if you do a lot of it yourself or if you have it catered,” Wallace said. “It happens just one time. They’ll never graduate again from high school.”