2 Graduates in 2020 Minus The Pomp and Circumstance

We have 2 Wagoner Graduates in 2020, even though the kids are 2 1/2 years apart in age and a 2-year gap in school!  Knowing this at the beginning of the year was very exciting.  We were looking forward to all of the traditions and events that coincided with graduation.  Then everything changed…

We have 2 Graduates in 2020, even though the kids are 2 1/2 years apart in age. This was exciting at the beginning of the year, then everything changed... Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

“Did the kids Graduate?” 

Here we are at the end of June 2020 and we are asking ourselves “did the kids graduate?”  We think so…

School is finished, final report cards have been received, so I guess they did!  It all feels very unfinished and we will figure out a way to mark this milestone.  Let’s go back to the beginning of the year.

How can both of the kids be graduating in 2020?

Just a quick little detour into the topic of education in Spain.  School is obligatory from the 1st – 10th grade, roughly 6-16 years old.  So there is a formal 10th-grade graduation.  From that point it is not obligatory to attend school, as there are other options of going to a trade school, starting work, or continuing with Bachillerato (more of a college prep).

We have a more complete post on schools in Spain and an education in Spain ebook on the topic if you want more details. 

So that is how we have 2 graduates in the same year.  Anya graduated from 10th grade (ESO) and Lars has graduated from 12th grade (Bachillerato).

Standard School Year

As the kids in the USA go back to school in August, we still have another month of summer!  On the flip side, we see all of the graduations and year-end celebrations in the USA and we know there is another month left.  In Spain, the school year is just about in sync with the seasons.

  • School begins – September
  • School ends
    • Primary and Secondary years – 3rd week in June
    • Bachillerato (seniors) finish the school year at the end of May.  Then they have 3 weeks in June to study and take the PAU exams.  After those exams, the student then applies to the Spanish university they have chosen.
  • Apply for Spanish university – July 
  • University begins – September

Surprise!  This wasn’t a standard school year

Okay, I know this is no surprise to anyone, as we all have lived through this COVID pandemic.  As of mid-March Spain went into a state of alarm, due to the pandemic.  Everything locked down and the kids no longer attended school in person.  The first couple of weeks were taken in stride, as we thought school would resume.  As the virus took over the country and more things closed down, the kids were slowly watching their graduation year change. 

Our COVID posts

  1. You can read a little about our experience with lockdown in Spain.
  2. Several weeks later, it was all about the lockdown lifting slightly and getting that little taste of freedom we all craved.  These are all things we will remember forever.
  3. Finally, we wrote about our 1km restriction and provided a photowalk.

The structured school day turned into a less organized beast.  They were now taking most of their classes online, but not always at a set time and certainly not within the standard school hours. With some subjects, it was less about a lecture and more about self-study and having some time with the teacher on a group call.  There was no shortage of homework and schedules just flew out the window.

Every couple of weeks, as each announcement of the state of alarm extension happened, they also knew traditions were going to be impacted.  Our Ayuntamiento or Town Hall announced that all fiestas and celebrations would be canceled until the end of 2020.  We also had restrictions on how many people can gather together.  Travel to Italy for Anya just wasn’t even close to being in the cards.  It was all going to be different this year.

Graduates in 2020

We know this has been a tough year for all students around the globe.  It has been fun to see how others are marking their milestones and watching graduations happen around the world.  Some have been drive-thru and drive-by, others have been virtual on conference calls.  Either way, our hats off to you all for the accomplishments you have made!

Some Traditions when Graduating from ESO in Spain

We only know this, as we experienced the graduation process with Lars 2 years ago.  What would normally happen, minus the coronavirus and state of alarm in Spain?  The kids in 10th grade spend the year working hard on their studies but also planning a big Gala fashion show for the end of the year.  They reach out to local shops to show off their clothing and the kids are the models, hosts, entertainers, and so on.

Tickets are sold for the fashion show and the funds all go towards paying for the graduating class school field trip.  It is also known as the trip to Italy for a week!  Each year several destination options are presented, but Italy has been the winner for more than 10 years, so it has just become that.  It is usually towards the last week of school and the graduating class goes off with 2 teacher chaperones to explore Italy!  Anya was really looking forward to this tradition.

In addition, there is a dress-up dinner for the graduating class at a local restaurant.  Of course, there is also a ceremony where each graduate is called up to receive their diploma and any awards they may have received.  It isn’t a long process, as the kids attend a small school, so the graduating class is usually about 50-60 students.

Plans for Anya

Anya was very disappointed not to experience that right of passage to travel to another country without the family!  She was so looking forward to spending a week with her closest friends and experiencing new things.  Instead, she had a stealth mode graduation and we haven’t really celebrated yet.  She is just happy it is summer and has plans to attend Bahcillerato next year.

Some Traditions when Graduating from Bachillerato in Spain

Bachillerato has been a little different for us, so I’m not quite sure what would have gone on. I do know there isn’t a big fun trip out of the country at the end of the school year.  We believe there would have been a graduation dinner for the students and a ceremony for the families to attend. 

All of the graduates did have to wear a white shirt and have their photo taken last week, so baby steps!  This is similar to their senior picture, but it is will be a traditional graduating class photo.  You know, with each student in their little oval on the paper.

This graduation is more about exams and studies.  The students usually finish the standard school year at the end of May and then have a few weeks to study for the Selectividad exams, which happen in mid-June.  The official name for the exams is Prueba de Acceso a la Universidad or PAU  (sounds like pow)

These exams are similar to final exams per subject and are the standard college entry exams.  There are 4 which are required to be taken by all graduates and an additional optional set may be taken as well.  

  1. Spanish language & literature
  2. Foreign language (English, French, Italian, German, etc.)
  3. History or Philosophy
  4. Student’s choice
  5. Option to select more topics, based on your studies (sciences, arts, and so on).

Here is more info on the selectividad process.

Due to the coronavirus and all that happened with education, the country needed to figure out how to handle these proctored exams.  They did figure out a way to keep the social distancing and allow the kids to take the exams, but they were postponed a few weeks.  Here we are at the end of June and Lars doesn’t take his exams until the 2nd week in July.

Senior Graduation Celebration On Pause

As you may assume, Lars isn’t in the mood to stop and celebrate his high school graduation, as he is heads-down studying for the exams.  Since there wasn’t anything formal in town or with the school to mark the graduation, we are just going with the flow.  Lars said he will feel like it is done once he finishes the exams in the middle of July.  That is when you will be hearing from us again, hopefully, with graduation pictures we take ourselves.  Lars does have plans to go on a 3-day trip to Portugal with a few of his classmates just after the last exams.  We will see if they can still travel to Portugal.  

University Choices

We will tell you more about all of this soon.  Lars does plan to attend university and study Math and Physics.  For now, you can know that Lars doesn’t plan to attend university in Spain.  We are just waiting for a few more puzzle pieces to snap into place before we spill the beans on the blog.  Stay tuned for the third week in July or so.

Tell us!

Did you have a graduate in 2020 too?  Pre K, K, primary, middle, high school or college?  How did you celebrate the milestone?  Tell us about it in the comments.

4 thoughts on “2 Graduates in 2020 Minus The Pomp and Circumstance

  1. My youngest son graduated ESO this year too, so he’s the same age as Anya? I didn’t realize that. He was so lucky they had their school trip to Paris in February. But he won’t be able to have a graduation party. My oldest son had the most incredible graduation party when he finished ESO a few years ago, the youngest was really looking forward to that. So Lars is leaving home for university? Or will you move with him? Take care and stay healthy!

    • Serena! How are you? Wow, it has been a long time. 🙂 Yes Lars will go off to university, we will be writing about that soon. Anya will continue to Bachillerato, so we have a couple more years to go with schooling.

  2. Interesting post, Heidi!. We missed out on Danielle’s (One of Scott’s twins) college graduation this year. So disappointing as we had the trip all planned. We were at her twin’s graduation last year and had so much fun… but many people around the world are going through the same. At least we have all stayed healthy which is the most important of all. Can’t believe Lars and Anya are getting so grown up. You and Alan have been great parents and it sure does show. I’ve taken a break from FB, so have missed your posts. Happy to see this came up on my email. Love you all and Congratulations to both kids!

    • Awww, thanks so much. Yes, we are all in the same boat and still healthy. Let’s hope it stays that way. Taking a break from social media is always a good idea. hugs to you guys.

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