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Do Eighth Graders “Graduate” or “Culminate?”

My daughter completes eighth grade next week. A ceremony is planned, but it’s not called graduation. It’s called culmination. When I graduated eighth grade all those years ago, I seem to remember it being called graduation. I graduated from eighth grade. I didn’t culminate from eighth grade. My daughter will culminate.

I asked the principal about this and she told me that culmination “can be an end or a beginning. It’s the end of (middle school) and the beginning high school.”

It didn’t make sense — and after checking the dictionary, I’m still unsure.

Graduate means “to receive an academic degree or diploma.” No middle schooler I know receives an academic degree, but what about a diploma? Diploma means “a writing, usually under seal, conferring some honor or privilege.”

The question is, do eighth graders get diplomas? Or is that a certificate?

Culminate means “to reach the highest or a climactic or decisive point.” The end of a level of schooling certainly is a climactic or decisive point. But that has nothing to do with graduation or having some honor conferred. I don’t believe culmination has anything to do with a beginning, either.

Perhaps my daughter’s school principal said it best: “When I came into this job (last year), it was called culmination. I slipped and called it graduation. But it (the name of the ceremony) can change next year.”

Until next time! Use the right words!


June 4, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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