Several years ago, it started as a small, personal ceremony, with each student walking into the audience and giving their parent a rose and a hug.
Those days are gone, but it's a good thing. The December graduation ceremony for Thomson High School will not take place this year because it is no longer needed.
"There were only three this year, so that means with all the intervention programs we have in place, the kids are doing what they are supposed to do and are graduating on time," Principal Rudy Falana said.
The winter graduation exercises began in 2005 when students who did not pass all portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests were no longer allowed to participate in the spring graduation. The students would attend summer school to complete their requirements, and a December commencement was held in the high school's auditorium. An average of 15 students each year marched in the winter exercises.
"When the idea was introduced, we wanted to get to the point where it would be obsolete," Assistant Principal Lynn Cato said. "To me, this means we've crossed the threshold and students are understanding why we're here."
Ms. Cato said the students who completed their requirements between May and December have the opportunity to march in the May ceremony. Approximately 250 students are on track to graduate in May.
"We hope we have a big crowd," she said. "I tell the students this is the biggest party of the year."