Looking forward to Graduation at The Citadel, 2017

Dismissed

Class of 2015 Dismissed!

Each year in February the questions from a variety of parents pick up. The senior parents are looking toward graduation and commissioning. I’ve added a few notes about the end of the year below.

Keep an eye out for the updated graduation schedule. I checked this morning and the 2016 schedule of events is still posted. You can use that schedule as a guideline for this year but watch for updates. A few general notes:

  • Tickets are limited. For the past several years each cadet gets 8 tickets. They can put their name in a lottery for extras but that is not guaranteed. Sometimes they can get a few from classmates who won’t use their allotment.
  • Since tickets are limited to graduation some families rent a house and have the graduation live stream connected to a large screen TV for the guests who can’t be at the event.
  • It is traditional to send out announcements for college graduation. Again traditionally announcements are sent to anyone who would want to know about this big life event. They are sent out the week of or after graduation. The recipient is not obligated to send a gift when they receive an announcement. It is a good time to announce the commissioning of a graduate who is entering the armed forces. You can also put a card with the new contact information for the graduate since they will no longer use the school’s address to receive mail. These small cards are referred to as “at home” cards to indicate the graduate will be at their new home after a certain date. The tradition of an at home card is an old one and has changed over time as to the meaning. You can read the history here.
  • Many families use the online announcement company Signature. They are nice quality, but a better price than what Balfour offers.
  • Commissioning services happen the Friday before graduation. Be in touch with your senior for the updated details on the ceremony. It is traditional for the newly commissioned second lieutenant to give the person who renders their first salute a silver dollar. You can usually find them online.
  • For those commissioning they will have to order and pay for their dress uniform. That process is usually started by now. The expense surprises many parents.
  • The seniors have to be out of the barracks by Thursday night of graduation week, unless they’ve requested and received an exception. Be sure you plan for this when making your accommodation reservations.
  • Many families give their graduate a Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association as a graduation gift. There is a special luncheon for the new Lifetime members during graduation week.
  • Like most big weekends, graduation weekend is a time of great activity. Dress for the weather and for comfort in walking. If the weather is warm many ladies wear light dresses for the commissioning service and long gray line parade. The gentleman wear jacket and tie for the commissioning and more casual attire for the afternoon parade. For graduation, business attire is appropriate, a dress or nice slacks for the ladies and jacket and tie for the gentleman.
  • Saturday morning arrive at the field house for graduation early to find a seat. In 2011 we were given assigned seats. The past several years it is open seating. Saving seats is discouraged. If you have young children attending, bring quiet distractions for them like coloring books and light snacks. The ceremony lasts about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. I played The Citadel version of “Where’s Waldo” with my daughter who was in 6th grade at the time her brother graduated. We had a list of my son’s friends and she tried to find them as they sat waiting for their name to be called.
  • Have a plan of where you are to meet after the ceremony. Some families meet on the floor of the field house some meet outside the building. It is helpful to have a plan ahead of time.

Previous posts about graduation:

Graduation 2015 Notes for Citadel Parents

The Citadel: Tips from One Parent for Graduation

Senior Parent Notes

Advertisements

Graduation 2015 Notes for Citadel Parents

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

Graduation for The Citadel, Class of 2015 is just a few months away. The questions about graduation week are picking up on the Facebook groups and in my private inbox. Most of the questions parents have including the schedule, ticket information, etc., can be answered on the Commencement 2015 page of the school website.

A few important tips follow:

  • If you haven’t done so already secure your hotel or lodging accommodations ASAP.
  • The seniors have to be out of the barracks before Friday. Check with your cadet about  their plans to move out.
  • Events for graduating seniors begin Thursday before the Saturday graduation. See the Schedule of Events prior to arrival to plan your trip.
  • For Legacy graduates, Commissioning cadets and cadets who receive Lifetime Memberships to the Citadel Alumni Association, see the Special Events For Selected Groups schedule for important information.
  • Baccalaureate is Thursday, May 7.
  • General Information about dress, parking, accessibility, etc.
  • Some cadet companies have parties planned for graduation weekend. Check with your cadet and their friends to see if something is already planned. Some families rent beach houses and host a gathering too.

The cadets who will commission into a branch of the military traditionally give a silver dollar to the person who renders their first salute. You can find helpful information about that tradition on several web sites. Marlow White: The First Salute – the Silver Dollar Tradition, A site that sells coins for the first salute: First Salute You can also find them on Amazon.com and coin dealers.

In the next several months the commissioning seniors will also have to purchase their dress uniforms. My son handled this on his own. I’m sure if your cadet has questions they can get information from their ROTC office on campus.

The commissioning service for the Army is usually the largest group and they start off early Friday morning. Be sure to arrive up to an hour before the scheduled start time to get a seat. The chapel fills up early. The cadet and the two people who will pin their bars on sit in a designated area, the other guests sit behind the commissioning cadets. The services for Navy, Marine and Air Force cadets are not as crowded.

Previous blog posts about graduation:

Senior Parent Notes

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

 

 

End of Year Tips for Citadel Parents

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

The 2013-2014 school year is drawing to a close. The knobs are no more and exams are right around the corner. The Class of 2014 can tell you the days and probably the minutes until graduation. The Class of 2018 are just beginning their early preparations for CSI and Matriculation Day. I’ve decided to list the advice by class.

To the parents of the Class of 2018.

I know right now you are preparing for high school graduation. It is an overwhelmingly wonderful time. Your soon-to-be knob is probably not thinking too far ahead. Trust me when I tell you the best gift you can give your soon to be knob, is their plain toe black oxford shoes. The best thing the soon-to-be knob can do for them self is to wear the shoes over the next few month to really get them broken in. Foot troubles that first month cause many knobs to miss out on activities.

Join the parent group on Facebook for the Class of 2018 parents. You will meet other new parents and a few parents of graduates are in the group to help answer your questions. Be careful what you post to other Facebook groups and pages. Gushing about your soon-to-be-knob on a public Facebook page is not a good idea. Let your family and friends know that advice too. Set the privacy settings on your Facebook page to Friends. When school starts and you see your knob in a photo don’t tag the photo. You can download it and post it to your personal page. Learn to use the search window on this blog and also on the school web site. The Citadel has a great website and includes just about all the information you’ll need to know over the four years.

See the blog entry here called Welcome to the Class of 2018 for tips on the Success packet list (page 6) and the CFA “Nice to Have” list.

To the parents of the Class of 2017

Your cadets just finished the toughest year they have probably gone through in their young lives. Many cadets are so excited to no longer be part of the 4th Class system that they begin to get lax with their studies. Remind them it is a college they are attending.

Sophomore year is also referred to as knobmore year. They are no longer knobs but they are on the low wrung of the upperclass ladder. Even if they have rank, they are the lowest officers. Know that at some point sophomore your cadet they may again question if it is all worth it. They don’t question in the same way they did knob year, but it can happen.

Help them stayed focus on their school work. This year they have a little more freedom and will slowly become more like other college kids. Don’t be surprised if they do not spend their open weekends coming home.

To the Parents of the Class of 2016.

Junior year is a year of pretty major changes. The cadet officers have much more responsibility. They are used to the system and really are very similar to other college kids by now. Junior year at The Citadel has a few unique opportunities.

Some cadets decide to be Bond Volunteer Aspirants, or BVA’s, the group that tries out to become Summerall Guards. This means they are volunteering to go through some of the toughest months of their life. They may have rank, but are treated like knobs when they are with the current Summerall Guards. If your cadet decides to be a BVA know that they will have little to no time to them self. Let them be the ones to contact you. Remind them to keep their studies up.

The second half of their junior year they will receive blazer privileges. They will also have a ring sizing and an opportunity to try on their ring. See the Citadel Alumni Association page for more information on the requirements to received the ring.

Senior year is right around the corner. If you haven’t started a fund for the ring purchase start one now. The ring price depends on the price of gold. The past few years that means just over $1,000. Moms, if you want a ring, you better let your cadet know now. They run around $600.

The the Class of 2014 parents.

Congratulations. I am sure you are experiencing a mixture of emotions. Enjoy graduation week. The school has posted all the information for the week on the Commencement 2014 webpage.

If you can arrive in town early to see the various activities on campus. An award ceremony takes place on Thursday.  This year the luncheon/reception for the new Lifetime members will be held on Thursday at lunch time. The baccalaureate service is Thursday afternoon.

Be sure your camera batteries are charged up for all the events. It goes by in a flash. The photos will help you relive this exciting weekend.

For parents of cadets who will commission into a branch of the military, arrive to the chapel early for the ceremony. After the ceremony the newly commissioned officers will leave the chapel and go outside to render their first salute. You will become a Blue Star family that day. Blue Star Mothers have chapters across the country.

This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.

This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.

NOTE: Use the search window of this blog to find previous entries on a variety of cadet related topics.

The Citadel: Tips for Commencement Week 2014

2013 Long Gray Line

2013 Long Gray Line

It may only be January, but it is time to plan for graduation in May. It may even be a little late to start if you plan on renting a home for the week. Links to hotel information and other places to stay are in this previous post. It is always a good idea to call the area hotels directly and ask if they offer a special rate for Citadel families.

The schedule for the week is available on the school website under Commencement 2014. Many families come into town Wednesday or earlier and make a week of it. The seniors are out of the barracks before the other cadets so count on them staying with you. Graduates who are commissioning and/or who are Legacies should see this link for their special schedule.

As every other cadet event, the cadets have practice during the days for all the events from the commissioning ceremonies for military contract graduates, to the long grey line, legacies, and commencement. Their evenings are free.

A friend gave me a heads up about graduation week. While we all want to spend time with our soon to be graduate, it hits the seniors sometime leading up to graduation that they will no longer be able to see their buddies by walking out of their room in the barracks. They try to get as much time with their friends as possible before they spread across the globe in their various new roles.

Some families get together with others and host parties for companies. Others have small family gatherings. It is totally up to the individual families. I wrote about the little things i did graduation week to say thank you to various people on campus that I came to call friends.

If you are just getting started on your plans, a place to stay should be at the top of your list. Meal planning is next, especially if you will have a large group dining out. For help in finding facilities the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource. The area hotels have restaurants and meeting facilities, but they can also offer suggestions.

The attire for the baccalaureate ceremony, commissioning ceremony, the parade and garden party is listed as casual, but many families dress a little nicer than just casual. Of course you need to dress for the weather too. In 2011 it rained for the Friday afternoon long grey line parade. We ended up so soaked we skipped the reception at the President’s home.  In all the photos I’ve seen from other years the ladies wear light sun dresses, nice slacks and similar outfits. For the commissioning ceremony many wear jacket and tie as would match the attire the new officers will be wearing. Most people don’t have the time to change between events so they wear something comfortable, but nice for all the events.

You will want to plan on dinner Friday, and a late lunch Saturday after graduation. Dinner Saturday night is another opportunity to plan a gathering. The recent graduates may also have various parties they will want to visit. Like everything else over the four years, the events outside of the planned school functions, will vary with each graduate. A good resource, in addition to the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, for restaurants is Zagat’s.

Gifts ideas for graduates are infinite. Some families give gifts to their cadet’s friends. Some knobs families give senior mentors gifts. It is totally up to the individual as to what you give or if you give a gift. A nice card is always appropriate. The Citadel Alumni Association also has some nice gifts available through their site.

The Citadel Bookstore sells diploma frames. Blazer buttons, and various jewelry items are also a nice gift.

The Citadel Alumni Association offers a steep discount on their Lifetime Memberships for junior and senior cadets. It makes a terrific graduation present. They host a special luncheon/presentation gathering Thursday afternoon. The new Lifetime members are presented with their plaque during the event.

A nice gift for a graduate to give their mother is the special miniature Citadel ring or pendant. It is pricey so they may need help from dad to purchase it for their mom.

I’ll include a few links below to previous posts that include other gift ideas and links.

The cadets spend four years waiting to graduate, then spend the rest of their lives trying to get back. Enjoy the week of events and take lots of photos!

If you would like to get together with other families in your cadets family and hire a photographer, I happen to be married to a very good one, Stanley Leary.  You can see some of his Citadel photos here. Of course there are others in the area too.

Other posts about graduation:

The Citadel: Tips from One Parent for Graduation Weekend

The Citadel Recognition Day and Graduation Gift Ideas

Finding Gifts for Your Citadel Cadet

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

Updated Hotel Information

The Citadel: Plan Ahead for the End of the School Year

McAlister Fieldhouse fills up quickly on graduation day. photo by Stanley Leary

McAlister Fieldhouse fills up quickly on graduation day. photo by Stanley Leary

Thanksgiving furlough at The Citadel is still a week away, so it may seem a bit early to post about the last week of the school year. As parents of upperclassmen know, the hotel rooms and rental homes book up quickly that week. Graduation is May 10, 2014. The College of Charleston also has their graduation the same week.

Make your hotel reservations early.

For parents of the Class of 2017 you need to pay attention to this advice too since freshman – junior cadets stay on campus until graduation day.

The undergraduate cadets who do not have prior approval to leave early, stay in the barracks until 7:00 AM at the latest the day of graduation. Some cadets have duties graduation day and have to stay longer. Your cadet will have to let you know if they have a duty, but they won’t know until closer to May. Cadets with parents who arrive Friday can load some of their belongings Friday.

If you arrive by 2:00 in the afternoon you will be able to see the 2015 Summerall Guards perform and then watch the Long Gray Line parade.

I am mentioning this now because last year quite a few parents were surprised about this schedule.

The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.

The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.

For parents of graduating seniors:

The seniors move out of the barracks before Friday so they need a place to stay Wednesday – Friday nights.

The events for graduation begin the Thursday before graduation. The school has posted a planning sheet and a schedule of events for graduation. The more extended information page for 2014 is not posted yet. You can read through the page still available from May 2013 to get an idea of what to expect. In our case my son did not participate it eh THursday Award ceremony and did not want to attend the baccalaureate service.

Friday: Friday is the day the military commissioning services take place. TheArmy commissioning service is usually the largest group and they go first. You’ll need to get to the chapel early Friday morning to find a seat. Two people can pin the bars onto the shoulder of the newly commissioned officer. They sit with the graduating senior. All others sit behind the seniors.

A note about commissioning: It is customary for the new officer to receive their first salute to an NCO or enlisted soldier. In turn the new officer gives a silver dollar to the the person who rendered the salute. Finding a silver dollar can be tricky for some.

The Citadel Alumni Association hosts a nice gathering at lunchtime Friday for the graduates who are new Lifetime members of the CAA. The Lifetime membership makes a great graduation gift. Up to 4 people, including the graduate can attend this luncheon.

There are special events for legacy graduates and their families.

The 2015 Summerall Guards will perform in the afternoon.

The Long Gray Line graduation parade takes place Friday afternoon.

Saturday: For the last few years each cadet is given 8 tickets. In 2013 the seating was not assigned. Arrive early for the best seats.

If you need more than 8 tickets, ask your cadet to network with his classmates.

Graduation for the Corps of Cadets begins about 9:00 AM each year and is over around 12 noon. If young children will be with you, bring a “distraction bag” with quiet activities.

Previous posts on graduation week may be of help in your planning:

Senior Parent Notes

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Gray Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

 

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Graduation Gift Ideas

The Citadel: Tips From One Parent for Graduation Weekend

Gift Ideas for Citadel Cadets and Graduates

 

The Citadel: A note to Parents of the Class of 2013

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Grey Line.

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Grey Line.

Sunday, January 6, 2013, cadets from The Citadel return back to campus for the Spring semester. For the Class of 2013 it marks the beginning of their last semester as cadets.

I’ve watched the last several years as the seniors anticipate being part of the long grey line of graduates in May. They look forward to their time to break free of the rigors of the military college and begin their life as graduates who wear the ring. Sometime during graduation week it really begins to hit them. They have worked hard for four years to earn the right to wear the band of gold, walk the long grey line and receive their diploma.  What dawns on them graduation week is that while they are moving forward with their new life, they are leaving some of the best years of their life behind. They have become family to their classmates and will now spread across the globe to begin the next stage of their life.

I’ve heard it said among alumni and I have seen it with the cadets the past few years. They spend four years trying to graduate and the rest of their lives trying to get back.

For the parents of the Class of 2013 I have a few tips for this semester and beyond. . . .

Remember tickets to graduation are limited to 8 per cadet. they can request additional, but it isn’t guaranteed. The Cadet Activities office handles all tickets. Your cadet can network with their friends to see if they have tickets to spare.

Enjoy the next four months. Realize your cadet has made it this far in a very tough program because you gave them the tools necessary to succeed. It is a great accomplishment for the whole family.

Spring semester flies by. Visit when you can. Take photos.

Plan ahead for graduation. Make reservations for lodging and meals.

If your cadet will commission with a branch of the service begin now to learn what that will mean for your cadet. The required uniform is expensive. Rituals like the first salute from an NCO also includes handing them a silver dollar. Join the Military Parents of The Citadel Facebook group. The group includes current and former members of the military who are also parents of cadets are graduates as well as parents who learn from each other as they pass through the various training then deployment stages.

Make plans to see the friends YOU have made the past four years. The Facebook groups are great, but be sure to get email and mailing addresses.

Consider purchasing a frame for their diploma from the gift shop. They seem expensive, but custom framing is more expensive.

If your cadet is a member of the Summerall Guards consider purchasing a few items now to give as gifts later.

The Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association is a great lifelong gift. Other alumni gifts can be found on the CAA website.

Moms, if you want a “mom’s ring” you may need to let your husband know. Some cadets purchase them for their mothers, but many never think about it. Your husband and your cadet could work together to get one for you.

Your senior is a young adult. They will make mistakes. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes. Be there to listen when they want to talk, but try to move from a supervisory role to interested observer/consultant. It is time for them to strike out on their own. This transition can be as difficult and even more difficult for the parents than the cadets.

For everyone in the classes of 2014 – 2016, your time is coming soon. Bookmark this entry for future years.

A Note For Parents of 2014 BVA’s:

Be prepared for a tough few months. Your cadet is about to begin their most physically challenging time at The Citadel. I am also told by graduates that they look back on their time as BVA’s as some of the best times they had at The Citadel. They just don’t have extra time to call or keep in touch. Join the Facebook pages for the Summerall Guard Foundation and The Summerall Guards once your cadet makes it. Summerall Guards wearables can be purchased through their website. BVA pants and shirts too.

 

Previous Posts about Graduation week:

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

The Citadel: Learning About LDAC and Branch Assignments

***Updated LDAC links for 2013***

The summer before our son started his senior year I had a lot of questions about how the transition from ROTC cadet to an active duty Army second lieutenant would happen. That summer my husband was peaking at a conference in Charleston. My daughter and I went along and I made an appointment with a Major in the Army ROTC department at The Citadel to ask a few questions. I was clear that I wasn’t there to ask about my son in particular but rather I wanted to learn what steps are involved in going from a cadet to an officer. I didn’t tell my son about the meeting either;)

LDAC 2010 Graduation

Graduation from LDAC 2010. photo from LDAC

The Major was very helpful.  He gave me a chart. I’ll explain the system as I understand it, but I encourage you to do your own research. Just like cadet life each persons path is different.

Our son was on a 4 year Army ROTC scholarship. That meant while I was in Charleston the summer of 2010, he was in the Seattle area at Joint Base Lewis McChord going through the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).  The chart we reviewed dealt with the LDAC process too.

The summer before senior year, for 4 year cadets, or after senior year for 3 year cadets, they attend LDAC. They enter the course with a grade from their sending school’s ROTC department. During the 29 day course they are graded on various tasks including the Army Physical Fitness Test. They accumulate points for each task. If they do really well in each task they can earn RECONDO status, which gives them an extra point. If they are the top several cadets in a platoon they earn an extra half a point. The Major said the extra point for RECONDO status can bump a cadet up on the point list over 1,000 names.

A note for parents: The Public Affairs office at Joint Base Lewis McChord does a terrific job of keeping family members posted. The cadets have to give up their cell phones a few days into their time there. You can send packages but they have to eat what ever is sent when the package is opened. They usually share with the people in their platoon. Be sure to ask your cadet to tell you their company and platoon. You can then know how to mail them letters and packages and also will know what group of photos my contain a glimpse of your cadet. The LDAC Facebook group is usually posted a month or so before the first group reports. the Warrior Forge blog has links to the Flickr photo site and other helpful information like training schedules. They  broadcast the graduation online for each class. The cadets who have just graduated from their college are commissioned at the end of this graduation. The Citadel rising seniors (4 year ROTC cadets) are commissioned the day before commencement

At the end of the summer, early in the first semester, the Army looks at where they need to fill positions. The cadets have already filled out forms indicating which branch of the U.S. Army they would like to serve. Three of their choices must be combat arms related branches. At some point in the fall the assignments are given.

At the Citadel they have what is called the branch meeting. All the graduating Army ROTC contract cadets are gathered in a seminar classroom and each receives an envelope with their assigned branch. The cadet is not guaranteed a spot in their choice of branch. Our son listed Armor as his first choice and that is where he was assigned. I heard from others who were assigned branches far lower on their list.

Some cadets will know their duty station, or where they will be based after training, before graduation. Some will find out at their Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC). Each branch of the service trains at a different base. Armor and Infantry are at Ft. Benning, GA. Our son was in the Armor branch so this is where his training in the Armor BOLC took place. A quick Google search for the branch and  BOLC should turn up the base website and Facebook groups they may have.

Army ROTC cadets take their oath in Summerall Chapel. photo by Stanley Leary

The school will post the details of the commissioning service on the main website or the page that lists the various commencement weekend events. The Army is usually the largest group to be commissioned and the service is held early Friday morning. Plan to get to the chapel an hour early for the best selection of seats for the service. Two family members can go forward during the service to pin the bars on the new officer. After the ceremony inside, the new officers go outside to the parade field to receive their first salute, usually from a friend who is a non-commissioned officer (NCO). It is customary for the new second lieutenant to give the NCO a silver dollar after the salute when they shake hands.

Report dates for each new second lieutenant will vary greatly. some may need to report right away and for others it could be months before they start their new job in the Army.

The first salute. photo by Stanley Leary

The new second lieutenants, friends and family. photo by Stanley Leary

%d bloggers like this: