The Definition of Common Graduation Terminologies and Other Related Matters
Graduation time is on again in the Philippines and in other countries. It the west, they usually held their graduation ceremonies in the month of July because their summer starts on this month and ends in September. We often hear different terms during graduation time but many actually don’t know the meaning or origin of such words. There are also several other related terms such as toga, title of the graduation march and several other things that they are aware of.
What is the title of the song they play during graduation ceremonies? Many are not aware of the real title of this classical music. The usual or common title they know is “Graduation March”. This great piece of classical music is actually entitled “Grand March” from the opera “Aida”. It was composed by the world renowned Giuseppe Verdi.
2. Alma mater
Alma mater is a Latin phrase which literally means “nourishing mother”. Alma mater is the educational institution at which one has studied and graduated. Alma mater may also refer to a hymn or song associated with a university, college or school.
You will rarely see a school that will post on stage “Graduation Ceremonies or Rites”. Instead you’ll often see “Commencement Exercises”. It is an academic ceremony or activity that involves processions and speeches. It is also referred to as “academic exercises” or Commencement Ceremony”.
Baccalaureate is a farewell sermon to a graduating class at their commencement exercises or ceremonies. This academic degree conferred on someone who has successfully completed undergraduate studies is derived from the Latin word “Baccalaureatus” – bacca means “berry” and laureatus means crowned with laurel.
5. Cum laude
Cum laude is a Latin phrase which means “with honors”. It is an honor added to a diploma or degree for work that is above average.
6. Magna cum laude
Magna cum laude is a Latin phrase which means “with great honor” or “with great praise”.
7. Maxima cum laude
Maxima cum laude is a Latin phrase which means “with maximal praise” or “with outstanding honor". It is higher than Magna cum laude and lower than summa cum laude. It is often used in the United States and Canada but not commonly used in the Philippines
8. Summa cum laude
Summa cum laude is a Latin phrase which means “with highest honor”. In the Philippines, the 3 most common distinctions awarded to honor students are cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude with “summa cum laude” being the highest.
9. Egregia cum laude
Egregia cum laude is a Latin phrase which means “with outstanding honor”. It is not commonly used and is intended to be higher than “summa cum laude” although summa already means the “highest”.
Ask a typical graduating student what is a toga and he/she will abruptly answer “it’s the cap” a graduating student wears during graduation. It is partly correct but not accurate. The term toga is a Latin word. It is a unique garment worn in Ancient Rome. It was the dress clothing of the Romans and only Roman men and citizens were allowed to wear it. Wearing original toga is without a cap. Toga per se is the robe.
Valedictorian is derived from the Latin phrase “vale dicere”. It literally means “to say farewell”. A valedictorian is the highest ranked student among the graduating students in a school. In France, it is known as “Major de promotion”.
Salutatorian is the second highest ranked student in a graduating class in an educational institution. It is derived from the Latin word “salutatorius” – salut, stem of salutare – to greet. It is pertains “to visiting or greeting” which is why the salutatorian usually is the first speaker during commencement exercises. His/her speech is called “salutatory address”.
Processional is the ceremonial walk or march from the back to the front of the stage of graduating students together with their parents/guardians and faculty and staff members of an educational institution during graduation ceremonies.
Recessional is a hymn that accompanies the exit of the graduating students with their parents/guardians and faculty and staff members after the graduation ceremonies.
15. Cream of the Crop
During graduation, you’ll often hear from the masters of ceremony and speakers the idiomatic expression “cream of the crop”. It simply means “the best of all”.