Graduation Lesson Learned

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by navy, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. navy

    navy Member

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    Just completed Class of 2014 USAFA Graduation.
    Wanted to post a few thoughts for those following behind. It is a wonderful, emotional and exhausting week.

    Go early. If possible, schedule your flight at least a day earlier than planned. Our flight was diverted due to weather, and we arrived late. If not a day early, plan for an early arrival to avoid PM storms.

    Rental Car. Book early and check. Mine went down in price, so I changed reservations. Thought they might continue to drop, but only saw dramatic increase in price during the last 6 weeks prior.

    Hotel. 2015 Book now! Or the day booking window opens. We also booked a house thru VRBO. We had family stay with us, and having a house was worth the added expense. Stayed up late talking with family, and our rented home became a hangout for our graduating cadets. Stories and laughter were priceless. Graduating cadets spent several night with us, as they had moved out of dorms. They did spend the grad night eve, in quarters to avoid traffic the morning of graduation.

    Parades. Sunscreen and hats for all outdoor events. Parade on Monday was very light attendance, parade on Tuesday was packed. Go early for grad parade to get a seat. Squads 1-20 are to the left of VIP area and squads 21-40 are to the right. I was over dressed. Wore a coat and tie, could have gotten by with cooler more casual clothing. Parking attendants directed to field house lot, but allowed us to proceed to the much closer Firstie lot. Park there if able. Ladies, wear comfortable shoes. Saw lots of high heel accidents the entire weekend.

    Commissioning. Bring Camera and Klennex. Arrange with another family to take photos, when you are commissioning your cadet. Indoor events were hotter than heck. Bring frozen water bottle/ paper fan to keep cool. Outdoor events were much more pleasant, although rain threatened. Umbrella would be smart. Dress in suit/dress but wear comfortable shoes. Our squad had a high heel accident on one of the Tzo storm drains. If you have the honor of commissioning a cadet, no need to memorize your lines, each squad had a board with the oath visible over the cadets shoulder. One cadet memorized the entire oath, very impressive. We attended commissioning events from 1630-2100, first round 1630, second at 1930. May want to eat before, plan a late dinner, that night.

    Graduation. Arrive Early. North Gate opened at 0700. We arrived at 0730 and drove right in. Traffic was exponentially heavier as we neared the 0940 start time. Sunscreen, sunscreen and sunscreen. Apply before entering. We were allowed to bring it in, but some families were not allowed. Bring frozen . unopened 24 ounce water bottles for cooling. Wear a hat. Rent a seatback ASAP, they sold out very early. Concessions were available. Long lines for ladies restrooms. Charge camera, and delete unwanted photos, as you will want to take mucho video and photos. I did not wear my suit as planned. I wore cool pants, and a dress shirt. Left the suit and tie at home. Glad I did. Amazing and very memorable ceremony. Cadet will leave after ceremony to check out. Hopefully they moved their stuff out early, house allowed us to store a pile of cadet stuff early in the week, and avoid any move out hassles.

    Post graduation. Everyone is exhausted by this point. Never slept more than 5-6 hours/ night during grad week. Lots of things to do. Do Eagles Peak, early in the week, if you plan on doing it. It is challenging, so do not attempt if out of shape, or exhausted. Go slow on the way down, saw a fall from another group and mountain rescue was called. We left Friday Pm, glad we did not leave early Thursday. Friday allowed us to regroup, pick up bike from bike shop, change oil in car, pack and also relax. Lots of cadets congregated at rental house, as parents had left for home. Fun night. Allowed them to have one last goodbye together. Plus for rental house. If late for airport, be careful on I-25, lots of Colorado State Police. In Denver, dropped of family and bags and curbside check in and then returned rental car. Much easier than humping bags on rental car bus. Arrive two hours prior to departure to allow for security, car return etc. Dropped off family members in COS, the day after graduation. Lines were nowhere near as long, as Parents Weekend.

    Drink lots of water, have fun. It is an amazing week.
     
  2. djms19

    djms19 Member

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    Thank you for the info! Looking forward to my daughter's graduation next year!
     
  3. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Leave plenty of time for everything! Especially anything that involves a bus or food.

    Especially important for all-day events: layer layer layer. It's cool in the morning but roasty warm (before the thundershowers) in the afternoon.

    COMFORTABLE SHOES A MUST... leave the fashion statements in the car. You and your feet will be happy you did.

    Bring snacks for kids and for adults who tend to get cross when blood sugar falls (husbands/fathers - take note. :shake:). It's a long drive to Chick-fil-A! And don't forget to hydrate. Long walk to the drinking fountain.

    Please, please, make sure you have all the required information (DL, registration, insurance) READY BEFORE YOU GET TO THE GATE. Saves time for everyone, and makes it easy on the nice people who have to check all those things.

    If you suffer from some medical condition, please keep in mind there is a lot of walking, sitting and standing in the hot sun (or stormy bleachers), more walking, long lines, more walking, crowded restaurants, more walking. Have all your medications with you and labeled correctly.

    If your graduate has (much) younger siblings, please remember that they may not feel the thrill of sitting in the bleachers for 2-1/2 hours waiting to see Bobby or Jenny as a tiny spot down on the field at graduation. And, especially if it's really hot or really cold, come prepared with sweaters, water, and something that will keep younger ones from driving YOU nuts! (It's why video games were invented, right?)

    It's a week you'll never forget! Enjoy!
     
  4. djms19

    djms19 Member

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    For those parents who had family/friends out to Colorado Springs/AFA for the first time, what did they enjoy most (place or event)?
     
  5. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    We went up into the Rockies and were truly shocked. I think the name of the town was Cripple Creek.Yes the Front/Rampart Range is impressive but when you really go out and see the Rockies - it's astounding.
     
  6. PJ Allen

    PJ Allen Member

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    Rocky Mountain National Park - specifically Trail Ridge Road/Great Divide at sunset. AMAZING. Big Horn Restaurant in Estes Park had good food at a reasonable price.

    Spend a day in Breckenridge. Great little town with lots of shops and restaurants. This is also an incredible place to stay during Christmas. The town goes all out and the view from a room/home on the mountain looking down on the Christmas lights is beautiful. The skiing happens to be top notch too. (This is where lots of locals go to avoid the Aspen/Vail crowd.)

    If you want a REALLY quiet picnic spot, follow the South Platte River on Deckers Rd (off hwy 67) near the Cheesman Lake. (Keep the little ones away from the swift water!) This is also a nice drive.

    Million Dollar Highway has great views.

    I lived in Colorado for may years and these are some of my favorite get-away spots.

    Really, turn off the GPS, drive in the mountains and get lost. Turn the GPS back on when you want to go back. It's all beautiful!
     

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