When it comes to graduation ceremonies, an image of a somber auditorium emerges, with students all suited up, listening to boring speeches given by boring eminent scholars or boring political figures and watching a few, probably boring students receiving awards. No one had ever thought of transforming the ceremony until 1996, when Mr. Tien-chieu Hu, a math teacher and alumnus of HSNU, led the seniors who already received their early admission offers in organizing an entirely different kind of ceremony. The faculty was no longer “invited” to sit on stage during the ceremony, a highly controversial act that was regarded as defying the authority. The traditional farewell song disappeared. Instead, pop songs were chosen to play to add light-hearted humor and fun to the otherwise solemn atmosphere. It was the first time that the spotlight, at a celebration designed to acknowledge the accomplishments of the graduating student body, shined on the graduates themselves.
Since then, HSNU commencement ceremonies have been the very model of a modern innovative spirit. Each year, the auditorium building is transformed to a completely different space with delicate designs matching the year’s theme. Students use cardboards, wood and paper-mache to make sculptures and build scenery. The graduates follow the red carpet into the auditorium, where meticulously designed artwork and scenery are presented with carefully chosen background music to create a surreal environment. The faculty, dean included, has no choice but to set aside their pride and put on costumes to play out the plots that students design for them. Humorous video clips are played before awards are given, and explosive laughter often breaks out in the auditorium. The unique commencement ceremony each year inevitably becomes one of the most valuable memories shared by each and every HSNU alumni.