This is what spring commencement will look like for the 70th class of the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences on May 7.
This messy celebration where nursing students load tool belts with party materials such as horns and confetti cannons has been a signature of the Harris College for years, said Associate Dean Suzy Lockwood.
The commencement tradition, Lockwood said, dates as far back as 1975. But no one in the school knows which class first let the silly string fly.
“We’re slowly trying to figure out who that was,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood, who brought confetti to her graduation in 1983, spoke about the extravagant ritual fondly.
“It’s an opportunity for them to really celebrate,” she said.
Students, she said, coordinate what materials will be tucked under their gowns each ceremony and seek advice on what utensils are appropriate for the formal occasion.
Lockwood also said it’s important to remember they are “representing the school, their family and themselves” at the ceremony.
Of course, not every ceremony in the past went smoothly.
Lockwood talked about one year where students brought IV bags filled with purple-dyed water as a symbol of how Horned Frogs “bleed purple.”
It sounds like a nice sentiment, but Lockwood said there was a problem. Many of the bags leaked purple water during the ceremony and damaged some of the rented gowns.
However, Lockwood said the students deserve to celebrate as long as it is respectful and tasteful.