9 songs that totally played at your high school graduation ceremony if you’re an aging Millennial

Graduation season is in full swing, and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Whether you loved high school or couldn’t wait to hightail it outta there (I fell into the latter category, in case you were wondering), graduation is often a memorable, emotional experience because it marks the end of a major chapter of our lives.

The speeches can be slightly, uh, forgettable — but most of us distinctly remember the songs that were played at our graduation ceremonies.

If you graduated high school before 2010, prepare for all the nostalgia feels — because chances are that at least one of the following nine songs was played at your graduation ceremony.

1“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life”) by Green Day


Fun fact: Green Day’s ’90s anthem served as the soundtrack for Seinfeld’s “farewell” episode and more graduations than we can count. Whether you had the “time of your life” in high school or you couldn’t wait to say “good riddance!” it was the perfect tune to bid farewell.

2“Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C


In the early 2000s, it was nearly impossible to turn on the radio during graduation season without hearing Vitamin C’s aptly-titled graduation song. “When we leave this year, we won’t be coming back / No more hanging out ’cause we’re on a different track,” she sang — but the song includes the sweet reminder that, no matter how much our lives change, our best friends will be there forever.

3“Where You Lead” by Carole King


Lorelai and Rory Gilmore aren’t the only ones who “will follow where you lead.” This classic tune was guaranteed to make graduates collectively tear up as they prepared for the next chapter in their lives.

4“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus


Leaving high school is exciting — but venturing into the unknown can be a little scary, too, and it’s totally normal to be nervous. Cyrus’ song is the perfect reminder that graduates will face obstacles, but they’re perfectly capable of handling and overcoming each and every challenge.

5“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield


“Staring at the blank page before you” means you get to write your own story — and that’s the perfect message to send high school graduates. The world is your oyster!

6“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson


If you grew up in a small town and couldn’t wait to move somewhere totally new post-grad (*raises my hand*), this song really resonated. Sure, there are certain things you’ll miss you when you leave — but the possibilities are endless when you “break away” and pursue your next adventure.

7“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack


Womack’s country ballad is the ultimate inspirational, “feel good” song to play as schools prepare to send graduates on their way. Even if country music isn’t your cup of tea, you’ve gotta admit that Womack offered some pretty kickass, inspirational advice in this song.

8“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan


Like most McLachlan songs, this one’s a bit on the melancholy side — but it perfectly captures the emotions many graduates feel as they prepare to say goodbye to the friends, classmates, and teachers who shaped their high school experience.

9“I Can” by Nas


Nas got some help from kids when he recorded this song in 2003. Its overarching theme is to pursue your dreams — so it was the perfect graduation song played at many, many ceremonies.

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