How to Write a Senior Tribute (& more graduation questions)

Monday Mailbag - How to Write a Senior Tribute

I use Mondays to clean out my mailbox. Today, I’m answering an urgent letter about graduation: What are some good gift ideas? Should my child attend her prom? How to write a senior tribute? If you have a child who’ll soon be graduating, you may be interested in this discussion.

Question: I need answers… fast!

What should we do for our senior daughter who’s graduating in June? We are thinking of a present for her. What if she does get asked to her one time senior prom? Also, I need some ideas to write a tribute to my senior for the yearbook. Please respond before 2 pm MST.

Last-Minute Mama

Answer: Just off the top of my head…

Ha! You’re not giving me much time to ruminate on this topic, Mama! Of course, I know absolutely nothing about your senior or her personal tastes. But I’ll do my best to answer your questions in the order you asked them.

Special gift ideas for your own graduate

First, let’s talk about what might be an appropriate graduation gift for your own child. My parents gave me a ring for graduation (not a class ring, just a pretty piece of jewelry they knew I’d like). We’ve given our kids such gifts as watches, cameras, electronics (like an iPad they’d need for their college classes), or special trips.

We’ve sent several of our most recent graduates to a Summit Student Conference the summer after they graduated. This 2-week Worldview program is an excellent way to provide tools for your young adult for defending their faith, whether they are headed to college or not.

Summit Student Conferences

UPDATE: Are you interested in sending your teen or young adult (ages 16-22) to a Summit Student Conference? You can save $200 off your 2024 registration with the code SUMMITFAMILY. Registration is already open, so apply now!

Other graduate gift ideas include:

  • a nice study Bible – the New American Standard Version is my personal favorite
  • luggage – here’s a wheeled carryon bag we love and have used for years
  • a nice journal, diary, or day planner – great for keeping track of assignments, test dates, and extra curricular activities in college
  • something homemade – such as an afghan or quilt; make it yourself, if you’re crafty that way
  • a scrapbook or photo album chronicling her life – a great keepsake gift
  • some sort of keepsake jewelry – maybe a silver charm bracelet or golden locket
  • a piece of furniture – possibly a new desk or an antique hope chest
  • something for her dorm room – maybe a rug or reading lamp

That’s the best I can do off the top of my head (but I may eventually turn this list into a blog post, as I’m sure other parents of seniors may appreciate some ideas, too).

Senior Prom: To go or not to go

As for Prom, is that something you or she wants to attend? I had no interest in going to mine, so it didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t asked.

Some of my kids felt the same way, so they didn’t even bother to go to their homeschool prom. Some of our kids, though, were very interested in Prom and paid for the expense of their tickets and tux rentals out of their own meager savings.

Senior Prom

One son not only attended our local homeschool prom, but also went — all by his lonesome — to a state-wide homeschool prom where he didn’t know a soul.

Granted, homeschool proms may be a little less risky that public school proms. But I’d recommend talking to your daughter about her wishes and expectations. If she’s interested in going and you think she can do so safely and she’s willing to pay her own expenses, then I’d allow it, whether she has a date or not. She’s about to be a full-fledged adult and will need to make such decisions on her own when she’s out from under your roof. So you might as well get used to that idea now.

As for whether she accepts an invitation and goes with a date, I’d hope she’d know enough about the boy and his intentions and character to make a good decision as to whether or not to accept his invitation.

How to write a senior tribute

And for the yearbook dedication, I don’t know what kind of word limit you’re working with. But I can make some general suggestions and share what we did for our graduates.

How to Write a Senior Tribute

Consider quoting a favorite Bible verse and explaining how it applies to your child’s life and character. For some good possibilities, read through the following passages and see if any verses jump out at you:

You might also share a funny story or picture from your graduate’s childhood. Pick something that would bring a smile to her face, but not embarrass her. Or simply use the space to outline your hopes and dreams for her and to tell her how proud you are of the young lady she has grown up to be and why. Be specific. Not just, “you’re a sweet girl,” but “It is such a blessing to see how patient you are with your younger siblings/ how thoughtful you are of others/ how kind you are to your coworkers/ etc” You get the idea.

I hope those suggestions help. I’ve had to write similar tributes for our graduating seniors in the past. Rather than being printed in a yearbook, however, they were recorded and played during in a slide show of snapshots from each student’s childhood. That’s one of the advantages of graduating with a small homeschool group — we get a very personalized ceremony!

All the tributes I’ve written so far, I’ve posted below for easy reference. As soon as I track down the video clips, I’ll add those in, as well. Depending on how many total graduates were in the class in a particular year, parents were only allotted 30-60 seconds to complete our remarks. Which explains why some of our senior tributes below are briefer than others.

Personal examples of our family’s senior tributes

  • Our senior tribute to Jonathan

    My dear Jonathan, I distinctly remember crying when you were four days old, because you were growing up so fast. Even then, I could see your high school graduation clearly on the horizon. But in place of the bittersweetness I expected to fill my heart at the end of your home school years, I find instead a joyful excitement over what God has in store for your life.

    As firstborn, you’ve been the guinea pig for all our ideas about child-training. Your terrific sense of humor has probably made that role much more bearable! We’ve cherished each stage of your development, begging God to make up for our profound lack as parents. He’s been faithful to answer those prayers.

    Your devotion to Christ and your knowledge of Scripture is a testimony to all who know you. You are a hard worker, a loyal friend, and a confident leader. We love you dearly, Jonathan, and we’re proud of the man you’ve become!

    “The father of a righteous man has great joy; and he who begets a wise son delights in him.” Proverbs 23:24 (NIV)

  • Our senior tribute to Bethany

    My beautiful Bethany, even as a baby, you had a big vocabulary. You spoke your first words early and were soon stringing them together in long, animated sentences, a skill you practiced every waking minute. And no matter what the hour or how desperate I was for sleep, you’d insist I look you square in the eyes whenever you were talking!

    It should come as no surprise, then, that you’ve grown up to be such an effective communicator. God has given you insight and wisdom beyond your years, which is one reason we decided to graduate you early. Not only are you able to articulate your own thoughts clearly, but you can see and lend expression to other perspectives, as well, seasoning your speech with grace, love, and mercy.

    You are a blessing to all who know you, Bethany. We love you and are grateful for your sunny disposition, your thirst for knowledge, and your love for Jesus. May His name be magnified through every facet of your life!

    “She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness, giving counsel and instruction.”Proverbs 31:26 (Amplified)

  • Our senior tribute to David

    My dauntless David, from the very beginning, you have been one to grab life by the tail. You were only two years old when you figured out how to operate our automatic garage door opener. We’ll never forget the expression on your face when we found you hanging by your fingertips from the ceiling of our garage after catching a ride up on the moving door. Yet even that experience did not dampen your fearless sense of adventure, nor quench your insatiable curiosity, nor weaken your tenacity.

    Although you certainly kept us on our toes while you were growing up, your father and I are grateful for your boldness, your determination, your perseverance, and your self-discipline. And we love the energy with which you tackle your goals.

    All these character qualities will serve you well, as you serve our Savior with all your soul and strength. We love you, David, and we’re proud of the man you’ve become.

    “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

  • Our senior tribute to Samuel

    My sweet Samuel, you’ve been making plans almost since the day you were born. Whether it was choosing what you’d wear for your birthday eight months in advance, or mapping out every minute of a special day you’d spend with Dad, or deciding at age three where you want to eat dinner each night once you leave home, you’ve set a plan to reach your goals and have faithfully worked that plan.

    Yet you are never too busy to take joy in simple pleasures. Your enthusiasm for life is infectious. As you’ve grown, your willingness to help, your eagerness to serve, and your desire to live in a manner pleasing to God have grown with you.

    Although you are still a compulsive list-maker, it has been gratifying to watch you yield your plans to God and to seek His direction. Your father and I are so very proud of you, Sam. We love you, and are excited to see where God leads you in the future, as you continue to follow Him.

    “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

  • Our senior tribute to Benjamin

    There are many words I could use to describe you, Benjamin: strong, smart, thoughtful, witty, incredibly good looking. But I think the word that sums you up best of all is LOVING.

    I felt it when you cuddled in my lap as a toddler. I saw it in the protective way you looked after your little brothers and sisters (even when you were still so young yourself). It’s evident in the encouragement you give your teammates on the basketball court. It shows in the compassion with which you help the needy. It’s obvious in the special outings you plan for your siblings and in the books you’ve read to them late at night.

    For eighteen years, you’ve filled our home with fun and adventure and side-splitting laughter. It has been a joy to raise you, Ben. We anticipate great things for your future as you continue to let Christ’s love shine in all you are and do.

  • Our senior tribute to Joseph

    My dear Joseph. When I think of you as a baby, I feel exhausted. Your guardian angels were constantly tapping me on the shoulder, as every time I turned around, it was just in the nick of time to save you from some life-threatening disaster!

    When I think of you as an adult, however, I feel at peace. You are so responsible and hardworking. So tender-hearted and compassionate. So resourceful and creative. I expect amazing things from you, Joseph, and count it a privilege to call you my son.”

  • Our senior tribute to Rebekah

    Mothering you, Rebekah, opened my eyes like never before to my complete inability to do anything apart from God’s enabling grace! We nearly lost you as a baby, whether you were failing to thrive or choking on Legos. Even the fact you survived all that used chewing gum you used to glean from under restaurant tables tells me God must have big plans for your life to have spared it so often. It has been fun watching that plan unfold as you’ve grown in grace and boldly pursued His calling on your life.

    God has blessed you abundantly: He’s given you brains, beauty, and talent. But even more importantly, He’s given you a spirit of discernment, a heart of compassion, a love for adventure, a resolve to do the right thing, a selfless desire to invest in others, and an eagerness to use all your gifts in a way that honors Him.

    Dad and I are proud of you, Rebekah. We love you and are excited to see what your future holds in store.

  • Our senior tribute to Rachel

    We lost a baby the month before you were conceived, Rachel. Although our hearts were heavy, we clung to Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

    That verse is where your name came from — Rachel Joy – and you have definitely lived up to that promise. You brought us joy as a baby, with your wrinkled-nose smile and your hilariously deep voice.

    You brought us joy as a young girl, with your fun-loving but fiercely competitive spirit and your surprising dedication to besting your big brothers in slack line and chin-up competitions.

    And you bring us joy now by reading to your siblings, helping with their homework, teaching them games, and comforting them when they’re sick or sad. Your beautiful penmanship even makes grading your papers a joy!

    We’re thankful for your sunny outlook, your dry wit, your tender patience, your willingness to work behind the scenes, and your dedication to excellence in everything you do.

    We love you, Rachel, and are glad God put you in our family.

  • Our senior tribute to Isaac

    Isaac, you have always had a remarkable sense of curiosity. Whether you were separating 2-ply toilet paper from your comfortable perch inside the toilet bowl or you were covertly feeding Dad’s important documents through our paper shredder, you’ve always had a keen eye for figuring out how things work. I love that about you.

    I also love your creativity and resourcefulness, your thoughtfulness towards family and friends, your fun-loving personality and wry sense of humor, and your gentle patience, especially with your nieces and nephews. Your dad and I are so proud of the godly young man you’ve grown up to be, and we’re excited to see what God has in store for this next chapter of your life.

  • Our senior tribute to Daniel

    You were such a happy baby, Daniel. You seldom cried, choosing instead to let me know you were awake by turning on your music box every morning.

    As a toddler you were full of life and energy, always ready and willing to play a game or lend a helping hand.

    By grade school, you were stripping off your shirt at every opportunity to flex your muscles, which were surprisingly well-defined even at that young age.

    By middle school, your creativity and athleticism were on full display. You loved handstand and pushup competitions, and were equally enthusiastic about artistic pursuits, whether drawing, woodworking, sewing, or building marvelous creations out of Lego or Lincoln Logs.

    And in high school, you’ve astounded us all with your focus and drive as you devour books and rack up college credit so quickly through CLEP exams and dual credit classes.

    It has been gratifying to watch you grow up, Daniel. Your dad and I love you and are so very proud of the responsible young man you’ve become. We pray you will keep up the good work, shining brightly for Jesus in everything you do!

  • I hope these examples will give you some idea of how to write a senior tribute for your own student, Mama. Graduation provides a perfect time for letting our kids know just how much we love and admire them and wish them well in the future.

    How to Write a Senior Tribute

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    1. i LOVE your personal letters to each child! you really know how to connect.. i am oly hoping to be able to do so for my niece’s letter.. ! thanks you for sharing your wonderful letters Congratulations on the graduation of all… it is a Wonder in the best sense!

      1. Thanks so much! It IS a wonder… and went by so FAST! Best wishes to your niece. Such an exciting milestone, isn’t it?

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