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Olivia Treynor / Senior Staff Photographer

Since classes have been moved online and the whole world seems to have gone under lockdown, seniors have had to face the newfound reality of a virtual graduation. There will be no group pictures on Commencement Day; no personal handshake from University President Bollinger, Barnard President Sian Beilock, or college deans; and no last hugs with the people who defined your college experience.

But while there may be missed traditions, there are also so many ways you can spice up your big day at home. To get you started with your virtual graduation party planning, Spectrum has some ideas for you.

Make some Columbia-themed decorations

It’s time to put on your Pinterest cap and get creative. Set the mood for the big day by decorating your living space with some Columbia blue-colored balloons and banners. Alternatively, if you don’t have any blue-colored paper, you can make a banner out of any worksheets, old problem sets, tests, or blue books that you’ve kept throughout the years and have yet to throw out. We’re telling you: tearing those apart for your decorations is the right way to get closure.

If you can’t make some life-sized cardboard cutouts or masks of your school’s presidents and deans, then we recommend printing out their portraits and sticking them on some helium balloons because that’s the closest you’ll get to any of them while they make their speeches over livestream.

One last art and crafts activity you can try out is cap decorating. You can make it a contest between friends to see who can make the prettiest or funniest cap. Nothing says graduating college like a good crafting session full of glitter and sequins.

Celebrate with family (if you can) with a graduation parade

If you’re back home and have family members in town, you can organize a graduation car “parade.” Not only does that ensure you’re respecting any lockdown orders, but you also get to see family in real life instead of on a screen. Your neighbors might hate you for the honking and the screaming, but it’s a good way to simulate what would have been a larger audience on your Class Day. Make it even more realistic by blasting some classic graduation music from car speakers and walking along your grass, shaking your parents’ hands (or your favorite pet’s paw).

Get emotional on Zoom

Before tuning into Class Day, host a pregame on Zoom with all your friends. Make it as sentimental and mushy as possible because what’s a better day than graduation to reminisce about the last four years? Make sure you guys all change your Zoom backgrounds to your favorite place on campus or your favorite picture of you and your friends.

After taking your last final, you probably swore to yourself that you wouldn’t be writing any more essays or working on any presentations for the time being, but you can make your Zoom graduation pregame extra emotional by telling all your friends to prepare PowerPoint presentations of your highlights as a group throughout the years. You can have your own ceremony by handing out superlatives and awards to your friends.

Make your own virtual graduation drinking game

One advantage of a virtual graduation is that you could be doing whatever you want throughout the ceremony. Instead of having to sit still in your chair, trying not to move too much so you don’t crease any of your formal clothing, you can literally graduate in your pajamas with an abundance of alcohol to get you through it.

If you’re looking to make the ceremony a little more fun, create your own drinking game with your friends. We all know Commencement speakers can be a little cliché sometimes, so you can easily find some classic phrases that are bound to be in speeches and take a swig every time you hear them. Some good ones to be on the lookout for are the “unprecedented times” we are facing, the “brilliant youth” graduating today, or the “uncertain but bright future” you graduates are facing. If you want to be extra adventurous, take a shot whenever there’s a technical difficulty or glitch.

Spectrum hopes that whatever you decide to do, your graduation day is one you’ll remember and enjoy, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. We congratulate all of you and will miss the class of 2020 on campus next year.

Staff writer Lina Bennani Karim can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Commencement Graduation Covid-19 Quarantine Lockdown
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