NCSSM Commencement

Saturday, June 6, 2015 @ 10 a.m. on Watts Lawn

NCSSM's Commencement Ceremony is an un-ticketed event with no limit to the number of family members and friends who may attend the ceremony on Watts lawn or at the rain site location, J.S. Dorton Arena. The ceremony is open to the public.


>Keynote Speaker


>Commencement Reception

>Durham Hotels and Happenings

>Student Speaker

>Inclement Weather Site and Parking

>Graduation Dress Code (Seniors)

>Photo and Video Opportunities

>Graduation Dress Code (Juniors)

>Flower Bouquets

Commencement Keynote Speaker


Thomas W. Ross

Thomas W. Ross is president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina.  A graduate of Davidson College and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, he previously has served as president of Davidson, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a Superior Court judge, and director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.  He also has practiced law, served as a congressional staffer, and served on the faculty of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.

His many honors include the Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, Distinguished Alumni Awards from both Davidson and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, and the Distinguished Service Award from the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Association.


Commencement Reception

A reception hosted by NCSSM junior parents will be held on the Bryan lawn immediately following the ceremony. Any junior parent who would like to provide assistance or make a donation for the event should contact Kim Logan at (919) 416-2863 by email at

In the event of rain, the reception will be held in the NCSSM Eilber Physical Education Center (PEC).


Commencement Student Speaker

NCSSM considers all of our graduates honor students and does not rank or determine a valedictorian. The Student Speaker for every NCSSM Commencement is chosen in an essay competition open to all seniors and judged anonymously by a school-wide committee under the sponsorship of the Academic Programs Division.

Military Recognition Ceremony

Friday, June 5th in the Lecture Hall

Honoring all graduates entering one of the Service Academies, ROTC, or the enlisted ranks.  Please email to be added to the list of invitees.

Graduation Dress Code (All Seniors)

All seniors will wear graduation regalia that include the following: cap, tassel, gown, honor cord, (girls, white color) and a special NCSSM medallion that is issued at graduation rehearsal on Friday, June 5th. No additional regalia items will be allowed.


Girls Attire

  • A dress or pant suit, or a skirt and collarless blouse (jeans are not allowed)
  • Skin-toned hose or stockings only (optional)
  • Dress shoes or dress sandals (mules, clogs, boots, flip-flops, tennis/athletic shoes, or any other non-dress shoe will not be allowed)


Boys Attire

  • White shirt with collar, tie, long dress pants (jeans or cargo pants will not be allowed)
  • Dress shoes (sandals, boots, flip-flops, tennis shoes/athletic or any other non-dress shoe will not be allowed)

Note: The following are required end-of-year activities for seniors. Any graduating senior not attending either or both of these activities is subject to disciplinary measures including not participating in Commencement on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Thursday, June 4, 2015 - NCSSM Awards Ceremony 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Friday, June 5, 2015 - Commencement Practice 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.


Graduation Dress Code (All Juniors)

NCSSM requires all juniors to attend Commencement.  In addition to supporting the graduates, juniors may also serve as a member of the Commencement Orchestra, the NCSSM Chorale, or as a Junior Marshal.


Girls Attire

  • A dress or a pant suit, or a skirt and collarless blouse (jeans are not allowed)
  • Skin-toned hose or stockings only (optional)
  • Dress shoes (mules, clogs, boots, flip-flops, tennis/athletic shoes, or any other non-dress shoe will not be allowed)

Boys Attire

  • White shirt with collar, tie, long pants (jeans and cargo pants will not be allowed)
  • Dress shoes (sandals, boots, flip-flops, tennis shoes/athletic or any other non-dress shoe will not be allowed)


Note: The following are requiredend-of-year activities for juniors.

  • Friday, June 5, 2015 — Commencement Practice 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 6, 2015 — Commencement and Line-up 9:30 a.m.


General Parking and Reserved Handicapped Seating/Parking

Parking for Commencement is available both on and off campus. Broad Street from F Street to Club Boulevard will be blocked off to traffic, as will Club Boulevard from Broad Street to Iredell Street. These streets will be closed from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 and will be available for parking during these hours.

See campus map for more detailed areas for parking.

Guests of our graduates who are using wheelchairs, walkers, or are hearing or visually impaired will be provided reserved seating, upon request, under a covered area in close proximity to the platform. Reserved seating passes based on these circumstances can be requested by contacting Kathy Mueller by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 18, 2015 at (919) 416-2887 or Spaces are limited and only the family or guest requiring assistance and one additional person to provide assistance will be permitted to sit in the reserved seating section. The rest of the graduate’s party will need to sit in the open seating section on Watts Lawn. Please note that NCSSM does not provide wheelchairs or any other special walking or seating/reclining apparatuses. NCSSM does provide an ASL interpreter on the platform for the Commencement Ceremony. NCSSM will also provide a shuttle for guests who may need some assistance in getting to the reception on the Bryan Lawn following graduation. Please inform Kathy Mueller if you would like to request shuttle service.

Some family or guests of our graduates may have state-issued handicapped parking permits. However, due to a limited number of handicap parking spaces, reserved on-campus handicap parking will require a special parking permit issued by NCSSM for display on the vehicle dashboard upon arrival on campus. Family or guests can request a handicap parking permit by contacting Kathy Mueller by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 18 at (919) 416-2887 or e-mail Parking spaces are limited and permits will be issued on a first-to-request basis.

Reserved seating passes and handicap parking permits will be given to seniors at graduation practice on Friday, June 5, 2015.


Hotels and Local Happenings in the Durham Area

You may wish to visit the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau website,, which provides information on Durham area hotels and reservations, restaurants, special events and exciting places to see.


Inclement Weather Site and Parking

In the event of rain, NCSSM will hold graduation in the J.S. Dorton Arena located in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. A decision to move the Commencement ceremony to this venue will be made by 8 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, June 6. The school will send a message to the NCSSM community via e-mail and text messaging. The Communications Office will also have a recorded message at (919) 416-2872. 


The North Carolina State Fairgrounds has adequate and free parking. Unfortunately, we are not able to reserve handicap parking spaces. Any guest who request handicap seating will be given specific details for handicap drop-off access to the J.S. Dorton Arena. We suggest that all other guests enter the State Fairgrounds through Gate 9 located off Trinity Road. See an area map of the North Carolina State Fair Grounds and driving directions by clicking this link:


Photo and Graduation Video Opportunities

Still Available - Class of 2015 Group Photo taken by Jim Shaw Photography

The official class photo of the 2015 graduating class was taken on March 16.  Orders are still being filled. The large group photo can be found at

Special offer:  Jim Shaw Photography will be on hand on Saturday before commencement with a limited number of 11”x14” class photos for sale. The sale price at commencement will be $20 – a savings of over ten dollars! Cash only. Sale ends at 10am or as the supply on hand is exhausted. No rain checks.

To purchase a print visit the website above, view the sample of the photo you wish to order and click the "buy" button at the top of the page. Orders placed online may be mailed to the home address of the parent or the address of choice.

Graduation Photos taken by Strawbridge Studios

On the day of Commencement, Strawbridge Studios will be photographing individual students during the awarding of diplomas. If you wish to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to have a photograph of your student receiving his/her diploma, please complete the Strawbridge order form and return it to Strawbridge Studios, Inc. by Friday, May 8.


Class of 2015 Commencement Ceremony DVD 

The NCSSM Distance Education staff will professionally record the entire graduation ceremony so that families and guest can focus on watching and enjoying the ceremony from their seat. If you would like to order a copy of the 2015 Commencement DVD, please complete the order form and mail it to the address listed on the form.


Graduation Live streaming

The 2015 NCSSM Commencement Ceremony video will be streamed live. We'll have a full video production crew on hand to make this event as memorable as possible for those viewing online. To view the stream in your web browser, we recommend you update to the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player, found here: To receive updates on this and future streaming videos from NCSSM, be sure to hit the "follow" button on our Live stream page. Feel free to share this via the Facebook and Twitter sharing options or via this link: This event will not be live streamed in the case of inclement weather that requires the ceremony to be moved to Dorton Arena; the video will be made available at a later time if this is the case.

Flower Bouquets and Balloons 

Flower bouquets and balloons are now available for purchase through the NCSSM School Store. Online orders can be completed using a credit or debit card, and delivered to your student on graduation day. Be sure to select the "deliver on campus" option at checkout. Don't wait, order a bouquet and balloons for your graduate today!