This week was the scholarship tea. It concludes the end of the celebrations for the graduates, following the graduation ceremony and prom. When you think of graduating, certainly the latter two come to mind much more prominently than the scholarship tea if the latter comes to mind at all.
That’s unfortunate, as it’s actually quite a significant event. The graduation ceremony is as much for parents and family as anything else. To proudly watch their son, daughter or grandchild walk across the stage, knowing that they’ve made it that far and are likely to move out in a mere 10 to 15 years. To back this up, far fewer people seem to attend the graduation ceremonies from university than high school.
Very few, if any of my graduation cohort in high school skipped their ceremony and that makes sense; not only are their ties with parents quite close, the parents are also nearby. When it comes to university, it’s a drastically different story. I know many people who skipped their university graduation ceremonies. Those most career-oriented may already have a job lined up elsewhere in the country and parents or guardians often live further away and the relationship isn’t quite as close.
Prom, on the other hand, is primarily for the students, getting a party after years of hard work or skipping class.
The scholarship tea, a somewhat unique local event, at face value is about awarding student scholarships to bolster their chances of academic success. However, there’s a secondary, and perhaps equally important function. Parents almost universally stand behind their children; this is not the case for community members.
The scholarship tea presents community leaders, from the high school principal to the Cariboo Regional District chair the opportunity to say “we stand behind these students.” For some, they may be distant relationships while for other scholarships, the students may have been volunteering with an organization for years and be well known within the organization.
Having community leaders stand behind you can be a serious boost of confidence. Instead of feeling unsure going into your first university classes you might just feel a little bit more sure of yourself knowing that people other than your parents or guardians (for those who get help) had enough faith in you to give you anywhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars. Perhaps that’s something just as worthwhile, if not more, than a graduation ceremony or prom.