Graduating from high school (or even 8th grade) is the first step towards postsecondary education. Our schools celebrate students' accomplishments and their plans for the futures in many creative ways.

Celebrating and Preparing for the Future

My Story Project
8th graders at Chiloquin Junior High School share their personal stories and future plans through photography and essays to classmates, families and educators at an event that celebrates students and supports the transition to high school. Borrowed by other GEAR UP schools, the My Story Project has been an annual tradition for more than a decade.

Chiloquin My Story Project

Senior Awards & Scholarships
South Umpqua High School honored seniors and their accomplishments with a Scholarship Night for students and families. The total for this year's senior class? Over $2.7 million - a record high.

Decision Day
Newport High School celebrated Decision Day (also known as Senior Signing Day or College Signing Day), recognizing seniors who had committed to postsecondary plans.

Newport High School Decision Day
Photo: Twitter/NHSCUBS

Exit Interviews & Surveys
Umatilla High School seniors must complete an exit interview as part of their senior graduation portfolio. Other schools have students complete an exit survey that asks for contact information so the school can continue to support students after they graduate.


Connecting with Younger Students

Graduation Walk: Lebanon High School started a new tradition this year: bringing seniors in full cap and gown to walk through elementary hallways thronged by cheering students and teachers (and lots of confetti). GEAR UP coordinator Wendy Eilers, organized the walk. "Right now in our schools we promote college readiness, which is great, but the first step to your future, and probably the most important, is graduating high school," she said. "Showing our youth what that looks like, that there is a finish line, is what our goal is."

Lebanon Graduation Walk
Photo: Mark Ylen/Democrat Herald

Elementary Graduation Practice: 4th graders from the elementary school in Lincoln City took a field trip to Taft High School to watch 15 minutes of high school graduation practice. After a short commencement speech, the 4th graders had their own graduation practice - crossing the stage to shake the high school principal's hand and to receive a green cord to represent GEAR UP and their future plans while the seniors cheered wildly.

The Candle of Wisdom: At Stanfield Secondary School, each senior picks a younger sibling or younger student that has looked up to them or been a meaningful part of their life. The younger student walks down the graduation aisle to meet their senior, who has them blow out a candle and take it with them as a symbol of imparted wisdom.