Phelan: Season of graduation parties is upon us

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

At the time of publication, I will have attended my last day of classes at Geneva High School.

Graduation is this Sunday. Graduating high school is an immensely important event in my life, and most people feel that congratulations are in order. And what’s a better way to congratulate someone than to throw them a party? 

The season of grad parties is upon us, and it’s a busy one. Nearly 500 students are graduating from my high school, not to mention other area schools. With everyone’s family as proud as can be, grad parties can easily crowd a schedule and be crowded events. I’ve compiled my years of grad party experience into a few main pieces of advice to facilitate and congratulate. 

First, try to keep things brief. It’s not that the graduate doesn’t like you; it’s just that the grad probably has at least 20 or 30 friends shuffling in all day, on top of 20 family members, five or 10 co-workers or random associates, some parent’s friends, a few neighbors and anyone else’s plus one. This can add up to 60 to maybe 100 people, depending on the size of the house and the popularity of that day. If the party is set to last from around 2 to 8 p.m., that’s six hours and 60 people. That gives the graduate six minutes to talk to everyone there, plus try to get some food for him or herself, help out if someone gets trapped in the bouncy castle and get to a restroom if needed. If everyone has a 15-minute discussion with the grad, some people will go ignored. It’s not that I don’t want advice on how to sneak a record player into my dorm room or discuss our family’s heritage, it’s just that I don’t have time. 

If you find yourself talking to a graduate that isn’t yours, such as a friend or a relative from the other side of the family, feel free to engage in discussion with him or her. They have more time than the party host to chat. Instead of asking things like, “So, excited for next year?” or “Are you sad to graduate?” ask questions that can actually create conversation. I’ll give you the answers to those questions already. Yes, I’m excited for college. I’m also simultaneously homesick in advance, nervous for my classes, thrilled to be out of Geneva and terrified about moving on. I’m incredibly happy to graduate high school, but then again, I’ve known these people and these hallways all my life. It’s a mixed cocktail of painful and pleased emotions, and I probably don’t want to discuss it with my friend’s mom’s best friend’s twin sister. I also probably don’t want to discuss finances, so any comments like, “Wow, that school must be costing your parents an arm and a leg!” aren’t appropriate.

I’m fine with talking about what color my bedspread will be; what I’m majoring in, if I know my major; what I think about the graduate’s high school accomplishments; and whether or not I want to go jump in the bouncy castle.

And if you’re talking to me, I definitely want to go jump in the bouncy castle. 

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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