The Best Day of the Year

Commencement was today – and in all my 17 Commencements, this might have been the most perfect weather we have ever had.  It was very cool in the am – and the grass was plenty dewy, so I know there must have been a lot of cold, damp feet – but believe me when I say a cool morning and high 60s with sun is infinitely preferable to high 80s and blistering sun.

The Wake Forest home page ( will be posting all kinds of Commencement coverage in the coming days – photos and you can re-watch the ceremony, and more.  So keep your eyes peeled to that.

Here are my impressions of the day:

So many proud smiles.  You’d see parents hugging their kids before they lined up this morning. Or hugging them aftewards.

Cheers.  Sometimes a student’s name was called and you’d hear a big whoop! from the crowd.  Whether that was friends cheering on a classmate or family cheering on their graduate, I do not know.  But it was wonderful to hear.

Flowers.  There were many bouquets being carried by parents and family members to present to their graduates later.

Touching moments.  There were some somber moments – moments in the invocation or remarks that prompted you to be thoughtful.  The awarding of two posthumous degrees, and you could feel the love and compassion from the crowd flowing towards those families.

The ‘hockey handshake’ receiving line.  Just like when hockey players finish a game in the playoffs and they skate toward each other shaking hands, after the recessional the faculty and platform party line up and they clap for the students as they go by.  The ones who know each other really well might high five or hug.  It is one of my favorite moments of the whole day.

Family photos.  After graduation, the newly-minted young alumni would find their loved ones and there were many a picture taken with proud moms and dads and grandparents and siblings and more.  Everyone stands so tall in their cap and gown.

The last group photos with friends.  You’d see big clusters of students huddling around their Greek lounge, or in a given area.  Arms around each other, caps and gowns on, posing in big groups and small.

It was a beautiful day.  P’16s, know that you will always have a place at Wake Forest, as will your sons and daughters.  We say goodbye for now, but I hope our paths will cross again.

— by Betsy Chapman

Categories: events