Homeschoolers Are Getting In on the Cap-and-Gown Fun

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High school graduation is a rite of passage for millions of teens. Now, those schooled at home want mortar boards too.

It turns out that students and parents who have turned down traditional education still long for a little “Pomp and Circumstance.” As the number of homeschoolers in the U.S. balloons to 2 million children, high school graduation ceremonies are the new hot trend in non-traditional education.

This June, a group of students donned capes and listened to speeches in what organizers called the “very first South Florida home-school graduation.”

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“I was getting all down when I didn’t think he’d have a graduation,” one proud mother of the “home-school class of 2011” told the New York Times. “I wanted to see him walk and have the cap and gown and the pictures.”

The Florida group had just 26 students, but some organizations are holding mass convocations. Christian groups like the Home Educators Association of Virginia offer graduation ceremonies for hundreds of homeschoolers at their annual conventions.

There are plenty of accoutrements for the proud parents too. Online retailers catering to the burgeoning home-school market sell everything from class rings to “Proud of Our 2011 Home-School Graduate” yard signs.

Some students are reluctant to participate, in part because their classmates are strangers. But often it is the parents who urge them on. “I imagined her walking across the stage just like I did at my graduation,” said Florida mom Brenda Orr of her daughter Vanessa. “I didn’t want her to feel she’d missed out on something.”

MORE: Homeschoolers: From Home to Harvard