Student Services :: Graduation

Graduation Ceremony

Commencement Location: Salem Civic Center, 1001 Roanoke Boulevard, Salem, VA.

Rehearsal: May 13, 2016 at 2:30p.m. Graduates are required to attend.

Commencement Ceremony: Friday, May 13, 2016 at 6:30p.m. with reception to follow. There is no restriction or limit on the amount of guests you may invite. We do not use tickets for this event.

The stream from the 2015 Commencement Ceremony is viewable online at:
The College will also be live-streaming the 2016 Commencement Ceremony.

Please plan to arrive early as the Salem Civic Center security will check bags and carry in items prior to the ceremony. Backpacks will not be allowed into the arena.

Rehearsal Guidelines

Arrive in time so rehearsal can begin at 2:30p.m. Rehearsal will last approximately 2 to 2-1/2 hours. There will be little time to go home, dress and return, so please come prepared to stay in the general area until graduation begins.

Upon arriving, all students should park BEHIND the civic center in the football stadium lot or on the Route 419 side near the baseball stadium and ENTER THROUGH THE REAR SIDE DOORS OF THE ENCLOSED ANNEX which is located at the back of the civic center.

Proceed to the annex area-behind the arena stage-to alphabetized tables and pick up your color-coded, numbered name card. After obtaining your card, go into the main floor arena and find your color-coded, numbered seat. Be seated. When all of the graduates are seated, you will then receive instructions on the entire graduation process and ceremony. You will practice processing in, walking across the stage and recessing out.

Name Line

If you are concerned your name will be mispronounced, please call 540-857-6699 by noon on Friday, May 8. You will have the opportunity to record the correct pronunciation for the dean who will read it at commencement.

Commencement Ceremony

Graduates are to be at the Civic Center by 5:30p.m., in academic regalia, and begin lining up no later than 6:00p.m.

PLEASE: Turn off cell phones and beepers for the ceremony.

Upon arriving, find your place in line in the annex area behind the stage. Do not walk through the main civic center arena to get to the annex. The male and female restrooms in the civic center upper hallways will serve as your dressing areas if needed. The Commencement Ceremony will begin promptly at 6:30p.m. and last approximately 2 to 2-1/2 hours.


Before May 15th, try on your cap and gown to make sure they fit. If you have a problem with the fit, contact the Registrar's Office at 857-7236 immediately. There is very little, if anything, we can do for clothing problems the day of graduation. To minimize wrinkles, hang up gown for a few days and if needed, lightly press your gown on low setting prior to graduation.

You do not have to wear your regalia for the rehearsal. Please be sure to follow the VWCC Student Regalia policy, which can be found at the end of this document. Caps are to be worn FLAT-parallel to the floor - on your head and secure them with hairpins if necessary. No tape or signs are to be on your caps. Associate degree students receive a hood that may require a safety pin to secure it. Because your gowns are a dark color, graduation protocol suggests you should wear dark accessories; shoes, slacks, etc. This is to ensure a uniform appearance to the graduation ceremony and to highlight the colors of the hoods, tassels, and honors you have earned.

Do not carry extra objects with you. Lock purses and valuables in the trunk of your car. Please do not chew gum during the ceremony.

Air horns or things that make loud suspicious noises are not allowed in the Civic Center. Students, please inform your guests of this policy.


Parents and guests may take photos during the commencement ceremony however; all photos and videos MUST be taken from the guest seating areas. No guests will be allowed to go on the civic center floor area for photography. Students, please inform your guests of this policy. A professional photographer has been hired by VWCC to obtain photos for official school use. The photographer and his assistant will be allowed on the arena floor during the ceremony. Television media will also be allowed on the arena floor during the ceremony if they choose to cover the event. Virginia Western is also pleased to offer ceremonial photo services to students. Photo Specialties of North Carolina will be present during the ceremony to take the ceremonial handshake photo of the student and Dr. Sandel, president of VWCC. Photo Specialties will contact students by mail and any photo service is strictly between the student and Photo Specialties. VWCC is not involved in this photo transaction. There will be ample opportunity for graduates and family to use the stage area for photos after the ceremony.

Special Considerations

If a graduate or any guests require special assistance to participate in or attend the rehearsal or ceremony, please contact the college Records Office at 857-7236 or Dr. Loritsch at 857-6286 by May 1, 2015 so accommodations can be arranged.

The ceremony will be signed for the hearing impaired and an area will be designated for hearing impaired attendees. Contact an usher upon arriving to be shown to the designated area.

If your guests use wheelchairs or walkers, please note the following Salem Civic Center information.

The Salem Civic Center has two front entrances and two side entrances. There are six entrance doors to the right front area and two doors down toward the left front area of the Civic Center. Guests who cannot walk for distances should use the left front entrance which is closest to the elevator that will take them to the arena level for seating. (See map below) Ushers will be stationed at these areas to assist you. If a guest needing assistance is seated on the arena floor area behind the ceremony participants, we ask that only one family member be seated with them. We are sorry, but this special seating area cannot hold all family members or large numbers of relatives.

Map of Salem Civic Center.

If you have questions or need more information concerning the Virginia Western Commencement Ceremony, contact the Records Office at 857-7236 or Mary B. Loritsch, Professor - Radiography Program Director, at 857-6286 or Center for Science & Health Professions, Room 223.


Virginia Western offers graduates the opportunity to order and purchase graduation announcements through the VWCC College Bookstore, Craig Hall (857-7334) and Herff Jones. Class rings and custom announcements are available from Herff Jones. To view styles and order your announcements and/or class ring, please visit: VWCC has authorized three forms of announcements. The three forms are: 1) announcements specifying the associate degree award with the student name through Herff Jones, 2) announcements specifying certificate award with the student name through Herff Jones and 3) a generic announcement that does not specify degree, certificate or student name but just lists time, place and date through the VWCC College Bookstore.

Graduation Applications

Students planning to graduate must apply for graduation on-line through their student center.  Caps and gowns are ordered through the website.  There is a graduation fee of $20 payable at the Cashier's Office located in Chapman Hall.  The graduation fee must be paid even if you are not planning on attending the ceremony in May.  The Records office will contact students through their student email account with information about picking up caps and gowns and diplomas. 

Policy For Student Regalia At VWCC Commencements

Students at institutions of higher education can often be members of several honor societies. Each of these societies may offer mementoes and commencement regalia items for students to purchase. The following policy has been adopted for student regalia at Virginia Western Community College Commencement Ceremonies, effective February 2004.

Following the published graduation schedule, students need to fill out the graduation application and pay the graduation fee.  Academic regalia will then be ordered at  The Records Office will notify students when regalia pick up will be.  Basic regalia items for Virginia Western consist of a black gown and cap, tassel and hood. The color of the tassel and hood trim reflects the degree the student has earned. No honor items will be furnished by Virginia Western. If students wish to purchase additional honor regalia items, please note that the following policy applies to the Virginia Western Community College Commencement Ceremony.

The student may wear:

  1. only one (1) honor stole,
  2. only one (1) tassel,
  3. multiple honor cords,
  4. no ribbons or sashes, and
  5. only one (1) medallion.

Additional adornments such as tape messages, pictures and decorations are prohibited.

Prior to the ceremony during alignment, if students are not in the official regalia, they will be reminded of the policies and asked to comply. Failure to comply to the official policies may prohibit students from participating in the ceremony.

Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Class of 2016!

If you have questions or need more information concerning the Virginia Western Commencement Ceremony, contact the Records Office at or Mary B. Loritsch, Professor - Radiography Program Director, at 857-6286 or Center for Science and Health Professions, Room 223.


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