Imagine studying an extra year in high school just to graduate – that is what it feels like in most European countries. In America, we can graduate if you can pass ninth-grade math, English and science. We take certain classes and can graduate as long as we complete all of them with at least a 60 percent in the classes. For Graduation each student walked to his or her own choice of song and had photos projected on the screen. Some students were then recognized individually for their work in the school and in the community. The first part of the celebration involves the students presenting awards and presents to the teachers that taught the abitur courses over the past year. Next comes the formal dancing by the graduates until finally everything breaks loose and everyone begins to dance and the band begins to play. The drinks flow free and the twirls of the dresses are a rainbow of color.
They start graduation of by each day has a theme with the graduating students dressing up and dancing on structures in the common area of the school. It builds spirit in the students and is a big week of fun before going straight into weeks of hard studying for their tests. Then next activity is a class barbecue right before the gradation events on the weekend. It gathers the students together to plan for the weekend and eat. Then, before the Abi-ball and Commencement ceremony, we have what is called an abistrum. A great tradition of abistrum is the graduates bringing in water guns and spraying the younger students. It is a farewell to the school and a final ‘we are done with everything’ celebration.
In Iserlohn, Germany at Stenner Gymnasium, there is a whole year of studying for the exit exam and how you do on the exam determines what you can do with the rest of your life. Juneau Empire says “The students study for a full year on four main subjects, which their abitur tests are based on. They have three written tests as well as one oral exam. These student study every day for hours on these subjects and also get breaks from school just to study.” These exams are extremely difficult and their future job and dreams depend on their score. For example, to be able to get into a school to become a doctor, you have to score a 90 percent or better. The subjects are chosen based on the student’s ideal job as well as their strengths.