Looking forward to Graduation at The Citadel, 2017

Dismissed
Class of 2015 Dismissed!

Each year in February the questions from a variety of parents pick up. The senior parents are looking toward graduation and commissioning. I’ve added a few notes about the end of the year below.

Keep an eye out for the updated graduation schedule. I checked this morning and the 2016 schedule of events is still posted. You can use that schedule as a guideline for this year but watch for updates. A few general notes:

  • Tickets are limited. For the past several years each cadet gets 8 tickets. They can put their name in a lottery for extras but that is not guaranteed. Sometimes they can get a few from classmates who won’t use their allotment.
  • Since tickets are limited to graduation some families rent a house and have the graduation live stream connected to a large screen TV for the guests who can’t be at the event.
  • It is traditional to send out announcements for college graduation. Again traditionally announcements are sent to anyone who would want to know about this big life event. They are sent out the week of or after graduation. The recipient is not obligated to send a gift when they receive an announcement. It is a good time to announce the commissioning of a graduate who is entering the armed forces. You can also put a card with the new contact information for the graduate since they will no longer use the school’s address to receive mail. These small cards are referred to as “at home” cards to indicate the graduate will be at their new home after a certain date. The tradition of an at home card is an old one and has changed over time as to the meaning. You can read the history here.
  • Many families use the online announcement company Signature. They are nice quality, but a better price than what Balfour offers.
  • Commissioning services happen the Friday before graduation. Be in touch with your senior for the updated details on the ceremony. It is traditional for the newly commissioned second lieutenant to give the person who renders their first salute a silver dollar. You can usually find them online.
  • For those commissioning they will have to order and pay for their dress uniform. That process is usually started by now. The expense surprises many parents.
  • The seniors have to be out of the barracks by Thursday night of graduation week, unless they’ve requested and received an exception. Be sure you plan for this when making your accommodation reservations.
  • Many families give their graduate a Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association as a graduation gift. There is a special luncheon for the new Lifetime members during graduation week.
  • Like most big weekends, graduation weekend is a time of great activity. Dress for the weather and for comfort in walking. If the weather is warm many ladies wear light dresses for the commissioning service and long gray line parade. The gentleman wear jacket and tie for the commissioning and more casual attire for the afternoon parade. For graduation, business attire is appropriate, a dress or nice slacks for the ladies and jacket and tie for the gentleman.
  • Saturday morning arrive at the field house for graduation early to find a seat. In 2011 we were given assigned seats. The past several years it is open seating. Saving seats is discouraged. If you have young children attending, bring quiet distractions for them like coloring books and light snacks. The ceremony lasts about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. I played The Citadel version of “Where’s Waldo” with my daughter who was in 6th grade at the time her brother graduated. We had a list of my son’s friends and she tried to find them as they sat waiting for their name to be called.
  • Have a plan of where you are to meet after the ceremony. Some families meet on the floor of the field house some meet outside the building. It is helpful to have a plan ahead of time.

Previous posts about graduation:

Graduation 2015 Notes for Citadel Parents

The Citadel: Tips from One Parent for Graduation

Senior Parent Notes

Gifts for Your Cadet

Wearables

Each year at Christmas time and the end of the school year parents of cadets at The Citadel begin to think of gift items either for their cadet or one that has been particularly helpful to their cadet. It’s a bit late for this advice to be helpful for this year’s Christmas but the ideas below will stand for any occasion, including graduation.

Gift Cards for restaurants and movie theaters in the area are always welcomed. Knobs won’t be able to have food delivered to the barracks until after Recognition Day, but they do get into town on the weekends. Popular restaurants include Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Kim’s, Jim’n Nick’s BBQ, and Sticky Fingers. There are many more restaurants in Charleston, just call them to see if they offer gift cards. Restaurant gift cards make a nice gift for host families too.

Netflix, Amazon Prime and other online entertainment options are popular with cadets. This gift may be a better option after knob year.

Other gift ideas for cadets include: A watch, coffee maker or hot-pot, good sunglasses, small 6 pack cooler, a good pillow, noise canceling headphones.

If they are a hunter items like a good hunting knife or other equipment.

Some cadets enjoy gift cards for an experience like skydiving, a boat/fishing trip or other activity.

Ideas for the graduating senior include:

Lifetime Membership in the CAA

Citadel Blazer buttons or other jewelry

A nice picture frame with a photo from Ring weekend or other occasion

A Big Red Flag or Company Guidon.

Any number of items from the Bookstore on Campus

Of course for the young grad who will set up their first apartment or home, cash is always welcomed!

Links to previous posts about gifts can be found on this link.

 

Graduation 2015 Notes for Citadel Parents

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.
Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

Graduation for The Citadel, Class of 2015 is just a few months away. The questions about graduation week are picking up on the Facebook groups and in my private inbox. Most of the questions parents have including the schedule, ticket information, etc., can be answered on the Commencement 2015 page of the school website.

A few important tips follow:

  • If you haven’t done so already secure your hotel or lodging accommodations ASAP.
  • The seniors have to be out of the barracks before Friday. Check with your cadet about  their plans to move out.
  • Events for graduating seniors begin Thursday before the Saturday graduation. See the Schedule of Events prior to arrival to plan your trip.
  • For Legacy graduates, Commissioning cadets and cadets who receive Lifetime Memberships to the Citadel Alumni Association, see the Special Events For Selected Groups schedule for important information.
  • Baccalaureate is Thursday, May 7.
  • General Information about dress, parking, accessibility, etc.
  • Some cadet companies have parties planned for graduation weekend. Check with your cadet and their friends to see if something is already planned. Some families rent beach houses and host a gathering too.

The cadets who will commission into a branch of the military traditionally give a silver dollar to the person who renders their first salute. You can find helpful information about that tradition on several web sites. Marlow White: The First Salute – the Silver Dollar Tradition, A site that sells coins for the first salute: First Salute You can also find them on Amazon.com and coin dealers.

In the next several months the commissioning seniors will also have to purchase their dress uniforms. My son handled this on his own. I’m sure if your cadet has questions they can get information from their ROTC office on campus.

The commissioning service for the Army is usually the largest group and they start off early Friday morning. Be sure to arrive up to an hour before the scheduled start time to get a seat. The chapel fills up early. The cadet and the two people who will pin their bars on sit in a designated area, the other guests sit behind the commissioning cadets. The services for Navy, Marine and Air Force cadets are not as crowded.

Previous blog posts about graduation:

Senior Parent Notes

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Grey Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

 

 

Gifts for Citadel Cadets and Graduates

Wearables

Each year around this time I am asked about gift ideas for cadets. While each cadet and graduate will have different likes and needs, I’ll post a list of suggestions. I have not purchased from all these companies and this post is not an endorsement of their company, just a listing of companies who offer Citadel related products. These ideas also hold for graduation gifts, and appreciation gifts for senior mentors, classmates and recent graduates. The Citadel Bookstore is a great place to start for gift giving. The photos in this entry of the bookstore were taken over parents weekend, 2014.

Here is the list in no particular order:

The Citadel Bookstore – Diploma Frames, gift frames, glassware, jewelry, etc.

Citadel Alumni Association Merchandise – Alumni gifts of all types Including the Big Red Flag

The Citadel Miniature ring and pendant

For junior and senior cadets: Citadel Alumni Association Lifetime Membership

LaHart – jewelry, crystal and glassware

Football Fanatics – wearables

Original Collegiate Art by Brenda Harris Tustian

Summerall Guard merchadise

Philanthropic giving – various cadet related funds. Give in honor or memory of someone. See this previous blog post for links.

Citadel Bulldog apparel by CBSSports

Citadel Sports gifts by Planet Sports Team

Citadel Golf Accessories

SoCon Gear

Bulldog embroidered pants, shorts, shirts and skirts by Pennington and Bailes

Palmetto Boards ‘n Bags – Customized corn hole boards are a popular gift for any Citadel fan.

Bottle Breacher – A fun gift for a graduate in the military

Spirited Signs – A company owned and operated by a Citadel alum.

A decal by Spirited Signs.
A decal by Spirited Signs.

Historic Nutcrackers – Citadel Cadet Nutcracker to be available after January 2015. Contact the company for more information.

Combat Humidor a great gift for a deployed alum.

Through Their Eyes – a new book by George Steffner

I have learned that Carolina Cadets is not currently stocked with their full range of nutcrackers and ornaments, but she does have the 48″ Cadet Nutcrackers. You can contact her through the Facebook page for her cake decorating business.

Diploma frame Diploma Frames Citadel Book F-Troop Book Citadel/Military related books Gift items Jewelry watches License plate frames Artwork Sketches Stuffed Bulldog mascot Photo frames

 

Gifts for Cadets

Each year about this time the search terms for gifts for cadets increase. Parents, family and friends of cadets are usually looking for ideas for graduates, but also to celebrate the end of knob year at Recognition Day.

I’ve written about this topic before and you can see those ideas on these previous posts: Finding Gifts for Your Citadel Cadet; The Citadel: Recognition Day and Graduation Gift IdeasGift Ideas for Citadel Cadets and Graduates.

My top recommendation for newly recognized knobs is a company t-shirt and car decal. You can purchase them at the Citadel Bookstore. They aren’t expecting a gift, but one of the first things former knobs do after Recognition Day is head to the bookstore to get a company t-shirt.

For the seniors The Citadel Bookstore and other merchants have an endless number of great gifts. The bookstore carries diploma frames, and other gifts.

The Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association is the top gift for a graduate. They are given a plaque at a luncheon graduation week. The membership means they will always be connected to their alma mater through the CAA.

Contact Dawn Allen at: Rmichaelallen@bellsouth.net.
Contact Dawn Allen at: Rmichaelallen@bellsouth.net.

I’ve seen some very creative gifts this year. Parents, mostly moms, are very resourceful. One 2016 mom sent me photos of a picture she had painted by a friend. Dawn Allen works off of photos, magazines, or any kind of images you want to send. Tell her what you want and she will design a comp. Price depends on size, detail, and if lettering is involved. Anything is negotiable. Contact her at: Rmichaelallen@bellsouth.net

Photos of their time at The Citadel are always appreciated. I gave the 2011 graduates of Bravo Company two photos for graduation. One was a group photo from their knob year taken on Corps Day. The second photo was a group shot taken in front of the company letter on Ring Weekend.

If you have a great gift idea you’d like to share, please add it to the comment section of this entry.

Bravo knobs pose on 4th division (4th Floor) in their dress whites, March 2008
Bravo knobs pose on 4th division (4th Floor) in their dress whites, March 2008
Bravo Company 2011 wear the Ring photo by Stanley Leary
Bravo Company 2011 wear the Ring photo by Stanley Leary

The Citadel: Plan Ahead for the End of the School Year

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

Thanksgiving furlough at The Citadel is still a week away, so it may seem a bit early to post about the last week of the school year. As parents of upperclassmen know, the hotel rooms and rental homes book up quickly that week. Graduation is May 10, 2014. The College of Charleston also has their graduation the same week.

Make your hotel reservations early.

For parents of the Class of 2017 you need to pay attention to this advice too since freshman – junior cadets stay on campus until graduation day.

The undergraduate cadets who do not have prior approval to leave early, stay in the barracks until 7:00 AM at the latest the day of graduation. Some cadets have duties graduation day and have to stay longer. Your cadet will have to let you know if they have a duty, but they won’t know until closer to May. Cadets with parents who arrive Friday can load some of their belongings Friday.

If you arrive by 2:00 in the afternoon you will be able to see the 2015 Summerall Guards perform and then watch the Long Gray Line parade.

I am mentioning this now because last year quite a few parents were surprised about this schedule.

The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.
The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.

For parents of graduating seniors:

The seniors move out of the barracks before Friday so they need a place to stay Wednesday – Friday nights.

The events for graduation begin the Thursday before graduation. The school has posted a planning sheet and a schedule of events for graduation. The more extended information page for 2014 is not posted yet. You can read through the page still available from May 2013 to get an idea of what to expect. In our case my son did not participate it eh THursday Award ceremony and did not want to attend the baccalaureate service.

Friday: Friday is the day the military commissioning services take place. TheArmy commissioning service is usually the largest group and they go first. You’ll need to get to the chapel early Friday morning to find a seat. Two people can pin the bars onto the shoulder of the newly commissioned officer. They sit with the graduating senior. All others sit behind the seniors.

A note about commissioning: It is customary for the new officer to receive their first salute to an NCO or enlisted soldier. In turn the new officer gives a silver dollar to the the person who rendered the salute. Finding a silver dollar can be tricky for some.

The Citadel Alumni Association hosts a nice gathering at lunchtime Friday for the graduates who are new Lifetime members of the CAA. The Lifetime membership makes a great graduation gift. Up to 4 people, including the graduate can attend this luncheon.

There are special events for legacy graduates and their families.

The 2015 Summerall Guards will perform in the afternoon.

The Long Gray Line graduation parade takes place Friday afternoon.

Saturday: For the last few years each cadet is given 8 tickets. In 2013 the seating was not assigned. Arrive early for the best seats.

If you need more than 8 tickets, ask your cadet to network with his classmates.

Graduation for the Corps of Cadets begins about 9:00 AM each year and is over around 12 noon. If young children will be with you, bring a “distraction bag” with quiet activities.

Previous posts on graduation week may be of help in your planning:

Senior Parent Notes

Celebration, Tradition, Ritual: The Long Gray Line

Citadel Parent Crafts Her Own Graduation Ritual

 

Graduation Day: No Longer the Mother of a Cadet

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Graduation Gift Ideas

The Citadel: Tips From One Parent for Graduation Weekend

Gift Ideas for Citadel Cadets and Graduates

 

Gift Ideas for Citadel Cadets and Graduates

I’ve noticed that a number of people are searching for various permutations of “gifts for Citadel cadets” lately. I have learned of some other unique gifts since an earlier post and will link to them here along with some popular sites.

Brenda Harris Tustian has a wonderful site that includes customize prints for Citadel fans. See her website , then go to “Personalized Art,” scroll down to see “A Citadel Christmas” and “Gameday Memories Citadel”

Chocolate Cadet by Christophe Artisan Chocolatier Patissier
Chocolate Cadet by Christophe Artisan Chocolatier Patissier

A fellow Citadel mom recently posted a photo of a custom-made chocolate cadet from Christophe Artisan Chocolatier – Patissier. I emailed the shop for more information and learned each Chocolate Cadet is made to order by hand. They sent a photo for me to include here.  The cadet is not on their website. You need to call the shop to order, 843-297-8674. Each Chocolate cadet is $19.95 plus applicable taxes and shipping. They require a three-day lead time if you are picking up from the shop, longer if it needs to be shipped. When my grad returns from his deployment I will definitely be placing an order.

One time that is searched for frequently are the custom-made Cadet ornaments and nutcrackers by Carolina Cadets. We have an ornament and a Summerall Guard Nutcracker. They are well made a fun to display at the holidays. Our nutcracker guards the entry foyer of our home. (She will be back online in 2015)

Carolina Cadet Nutcracker and an Army Nutcracker purchased at Target.
Carolina Cadet Nutcracker and an Army Nutcracker purchased at Target.

A great gift for a graduate is the Lifetime Membership to the Citadel Alumni Association. It is $400 for juniors and seniors, CGC students and Active Duty Students.

The Big Red flag or a company guidon is a great gift for a graduate. The Big Red flag can be personalized with the company letter and /or the graduation year. The staff of Carolina Flag and Banner are very nice to work with.

A BIg Red Flag with graduation year from Carolina Flag and Banner
A Big Red Flag with graduation year from Carolina Flag and Banner

Of course the Gift Shop on campus has a wide variety of terrific gifts for cadets and graduates. The frames for the diplomas may seem expensive, but once you price them at a framer you’ll see that the price is comparable. A popular gift for Recognition Day is a company t-shirt and window decal. Under the Alumni tab on the website are some nice gift ideas for the graduate.

For members of the Summerall Guards and alumni you can find nice gifts on their website under “Shop for Promo Apparel.” These items make great gifts for senior mentors who are a members of the Summerall Guards.

M. LaHart & Co. has a very nice selection of gift items for cadets and graduates.

I have learned that parents of Citadel cadets are very resourceful. If you have a great gift idea and are willing to share the idea with other parens, please post a link in the comments here.

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