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

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The Citadel: Tips from One Parent for Graduation Weekend

The Long Grey Line, 2011 photo by Stanley LearyIt won’t be long until your senior cadet will be graduating. The cadets wait four years for this weekend, then spend the rest of their lives wishing they could return.

In some cases the cadets will be commissioned into a branch of the military, graduate and report for duty. Other cadets will graduate and begin their careers in the business world or go on to graduate school.

The events of commencement weekend begin on Thursday with an awards ceremony and the baccalaureate service. The Star of the West competition is also held Thursday.

Cadet Nelson Lalli receives his lieutenant bars from his father, Blake Lalli and his uncle, LTC (Ret.) John Lalli photo by Stanley Leary

LT Lalli receives his first salute from SFC Polidoro photo by Stanley Leary

The commissioning services are held Friday morning. The Army usually goes first. Check with your cadet and/or the ROTC office if you have questions about the ceremony.We were told to arrive an hour early to secure the best seat. Two family members may pin the bars on the new lieutenant and may sit with him or her. The rest of the family and friends sit behind them. After the ceremony in the chapel the lieutenants go out to the parade field to receive their first salute from a non-commissioned officer (NCO). It is customary for the new officer to give the NCO a silver dollar at this time.

We gave our cadet a Lifetime Membership in the Citadel Alumni Association. All new Lifetime members and up to 3 other guests may attend a gathering in their honor at the alumni building. A cadet miniature ring or pendant is a nice gift idea for a cadet to give their mother. Since they are expensive it may be a gift for later, after the graduate has worked for a few years. Other scheduled events Friday include instructions and photos of alumni and their graduate son or daughters or grandsons and daughters.

The Summerall Guards perform for the graduating class prior to the final graduation parade. The schedule states that in the case of inclement weather the parade will be canceled. In May of 2011 President Rosa told us the only reason they would cancel the parade was if there was lightning. True to his word, the parade took place in the pouring rain. We were soaked, but happy.

You will want to find a spot across from your cadets company during the parade. At the designated time the seniors are called out of their companies and from the Long Grey Line, standing shoulder to shoulder the length the parade field. They then march toward the review stands and away from their companies. When they reach the other side the graduating seniors turn around and wave to their companies. Be sure to have your cameras, and tissues, handy!

I was warned by a friend whose son graduated a year before mine not to be surprised if my son didn’t spend a lot of time with us. The seniors begin to realize that the closer they get to graduation the closer they get to saying good-bye to their close friends. They have lived for the day when they no longer had to worry about an SMI or a Friday parade, but graduating also means they will never again live with all these good friends again. As an observer throughout the weekend I could see this realization hit the new graduates one by one.

May of 2011 it poured throughout the parade. We were soaked and decided to skip the reception at the president’s home. I’m sure most years it is a lovely event to attend.

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

Graduation on Saturday is pretty typical of most college graduations. Each cadet is given up to 8 tickets to use. If you need more tickets your cadet is told to resource with friends who may not use the allotment. The Cadet Activities office handles the ticket process. The tickets are assigned to you and can be any where in the field house. I am not sure of the procedure for accessible seating. When in doubt check with the Cadet Activities office directly.

Like the parades when the companies are in alphabetical order, the cadets sit in alphabetical order. Once you spot one or two you know you can then start to narrow down where your cadet is seated. We played a modified game of “Where’s Waldo” to keep my daughter occupied. If you have you ger family members I suggest packing quiet activities like coloring books since the ceremony will last at least 3 hours.

We played "Where's Waldo" while waiting to hear our cadet's name called. photo by Stanley Leary

At the very end of the graduation ceremony the president will dismiss the cadets for the last time. Be sure to have your camera ready. The photos with all their covers in the air are really fun!

It helps to have a plan after the ceremony of where you will meet. Many families met on the floor. Others met outside.

DISMISSED!!! photo by Stanley Leary

Notes:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General information regarding commencement weekend tickets and handicap access, see the FAQ link above for more information.

Many seniors never want to see their uniforms again. If you want to have it, make sure you let your cadet know prior to graduation week. Many of them leave their uniforms behind. The underclassmen then through the rooms of abandoned clothes and pick up what they will need for the next year.

Rental houses and condos book up quickly. Get yours as soon as you can. We stayed in a hotel and had no trouble getting reservations a few months ahead.

Each company and group of friends have their own traditions at graduation. We were invited to a luncheon by the family of one of our sons friends. I’ve heard of others who rented homes and hosted beach parties.

Dress for the weekend events – See FAQ link above. Most people dress up a little more for the commencement weekend events than for regular parades during the year. Graduation and the Commissioning ceremonies especially. You will see a wide variety of outfits though. The general rule of thumb is to match the uniform of the day for the cadets which for graduation and the parade is their most formal. For the commissioning ceremony, the Lifetime Membership Luncheon and graduation my daughter and I wore dresses and my husband wore a tie. If it is a sunny weekend, you may want to wear a hat with a wide brim to help shield you from the sun during the parade.

The Citadel, Bravo Company 2011, photo by Stanley Leary

Previous posts from Off the Base

As a little background, I thought it might be helpful to post links to the entries I’ve written for Off the Base, a blog by Bobbie O’Brien of WUSF.  Most of my entries for Off the Base have to do with being the mom of a cadet at The Citadel.  Future entries on this blog will be on a variety of topics.

The Making of a Military Mom

Mom Readies for Son’s Military College

The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents

How The Citadel “Ya-Yas” Came to Be

Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel

The Citadel Trained Me as Well as My Son

The Citadel: BVA’s and  Summerall Guards

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Care Packages for Cadets: The Citadel Heroes Project

The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships

The Citadel: Unofficial Tips for Families of Incoming Knobs

The Citadel: Saying Good-Bye, But Always Connected

A Sister, a Mom, A Family Prepares for Military Life

Dorie, Nelson and Leslie. Ring Ceremony 2010

Survival Skills to Succeed as a Citadel Mom

A New Blue Star Mom Shows Supports for Fallen Soldier

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Gray Li

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

A Letter to The Citadel Class of 2015

Citadel Mom Cycle Completed – A Blue Star Mom Emerges

A Military Mom Meets Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, IV

An Army Mom Transitions from The Citadel to Ft. Benning

A Seminary Student, Now an Army Mom Reflects on 9/11

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