Cam is finally getting a chance to shine when he is asked to preside over the high school graduation ceremony at the last minute, while Jay gives the commencement address. Meanwhile, Claire runs into her former high school rival who brings out the worst in her.
Cameron learns that Principal Brown has been injured in a car accident which lands him the opportunity to become the man who will preside the graduation today. At the same time, Jay has to give a speech during this graduation.
However, a series of mishaps occur during the ceremony. First, a group of students mock Jay because , in the past, he destroyed a cedar forest to make closets, killing a rare espece of owls. Second, Mitch is called in order to play a memoriam but plays horribly wrong. Lastly, a gardener informs Cam that he must accelerate the ceremony because of an automatic watering which will trigger itself.
Cam unfortunately can't finish before the watering wets everyone.
It looks that the family is having an horrible day. In Manny's case, he learns that he passed an art exam and is very happy, but when he sees that Gloria bribes Joe's karate instructor by giving him a watch in exchange of a yellow belt for Joe, he reconsiders and wonders if his mother bribed everyone else.
Meanwhile, the Dunphys, minus Alex, go to a local grocery. Phil and Claire are overjoyed to go to Alex's graduation from Caltech because she is almost a valedictorian, and even mocks of a former rival's child. However, both Haley and Luke are sad because it seems that they are not considered as smart as their sister.
For Claire, things get worse when she meets a former rival of hers, who makes her jealousy reappear. But, then, she learns that this woman and her husband won't be able to see their daughter who joined Isis.
After the first ceremony, the family sits in Dylan's van while he drives when they see Alex, on the road, who seems gloomy. As she says, she was so impatient to graduate that she made a geek fiesta and discover that now that all her goals were accomplished, she had no more ambition. Luckily for her, Haley and Luke manage to comfort her, by saying that if they can survive in the real world, she can to.
After the second ceremony, which turns out to be much better that the previous one, Gloria hides watches in a biscuit crock. Manny reveals that he actually earned his reward by himself, and discovers a cookie that he eats before being surprised by Joe.
(The characters struck out do not appear in this episode)
- Jay Pritchett
- Gloria Pritchett
- Manny Delgado
- Joe Pritchett
- Claire Dunphy
- Phil Dunphy
- Haley Dunphy (Haley Marshall)
- Alex Dunphy
- Luke Dunphy
- Mitchell Pritchett
- Cameron Tucker
- Lily Tucker-Pritchett
- Reid Ewing as Dylan
- Virginia Williams as Ashley
- Matt Roth as Skip Woosnum
- Landon Klotz as Pitkowski
- Jay Pichardo as Groundskeeper
- Jay Mandyam as Chug
- Tom Everett as Dean
- Kendall Foote as Auctioneer
- Tyler Cook as Ashley's Husband
- Matthew Wrather as Sensei Ron
- Joshua Tyler Kelly as Gerald
- Mina Joo as Store Worker
- Commencement means Beginning in french language.
- This marks the second episode in which a french word is used as a title after "Tableau Vivant"
- This episode was broadcasted exactly six years after Career Day
- As of this episode, every parent met at least one time a rival of his or her.
- Phil in The One That Got Away with Glenn, Send Out the Clowns with Mitzi, and for the Gil Thorpe episodes, Flip Flop, Career Day, The Feud, The Day We Almost Died, Do It Yourself, Catch of the Day and Kids These Days. He also meets a rival whose name is skip in this episode.
- Jay in A Fair to Remember (though he made peace with his nemesis at the end), and for the Earl Chambers episodes, Won't You Be Our Neighbor, The Closet Case, The Cover-Up , Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook and even when Earl died, In Your Head.
- Cameron with Senor Kaplan in Spring-a-Ding-Fling, Spring Break, with Martin in Knock 'Em Down, with both of them in Finding Fizbo, with Andrew in Undeck the Halls, Regrets Only, Closet? You'll Love It! and The More You Ignore Me, the two latters being episodes in which Mitchell faces his rival, Simon.
- Gloria with Donna Duncan in Under Pressure, Basketball and Clash of Swords
- Claire with this episode.
- This marks the fourth episode in which at least one plot revolves around graduation after See You Next Fall, American Skyper and The Graduates.
- Dylan's 44th appearance. Since season 1 and 4, this is the third time he is featured in a row in three episodes.
- This marks the second 21st episode in which a mother tries to bribe a teacher or a principal after Integrity.
- This also marks the second episode in which we see a kid doing martial arts, after Lilly in Closet? You'll Love It!.
- This also marks the second episode after Travels with Scout in which Manny gets traumatized by an horror movie.
- Joe practiced also sport in Do It Yourself, He Said, She Shed and Dear Beloved Family.
- This is the fifth episode in which Mitchell is seen playing or talking about a instrument after Sleeper, The Cold, Clean for a Day and Grab It.
- This is the third episode after See You Next Fall and The Verdict in which a family member has to pronounce a speech.
- This is the third episode after Connection Lost and In Your Head in which a plot revolves around a kid who barely appears in the story, Alex in this case, who only appears at the end. With this, every Dunphy kid has been concerned by this kind of story.
- This is the third episode in which Phil is seen fighting balloons after Won't You Be Our Neighbor and Alone Time.
- This is the second episode where Haley comforts Alex after Spring Break and where Luke comforts Alex after The Closet Case.
- This is the fifth episode in which we hear that Alex is smarter that her siblings after Starry Night, Under Pressure,Message Received and Putting Down Roots.
- Manny references Inspector Clouseau and Cato, due to their fondness of Pink Panther films
- Manny says not to show Psycho to Joe
- Cam mentions choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov
- Alex claims that there are more galaxies in the universe than grains of sand on a beach. This isn't really true; there are thought to be about 2 trillion galaxies, while there are 2 trillion grains of sand in just 12 square meters (130 sq ft) of beach.
- The AV Club gave it a "C". I’ve spent a fair amount of time criticizing how Modern Family treats its tertiary characters. Namely, whatever the likes of Alex, Manny, Luke, and Haley are going through never really seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. Seemingly important storylines are introduced and then abandoned, or, more commonly, ignored for long stretches. The most prominent example of that is Alex’s time spent at Cal Tech. College should have been fertile ground for the show to give Alex more meaty material, and yet, here comes “Commencement,” not only noting that time has passed without the show really noticing, but also failing to deliver a meaningful payoff. [...] Manny, Joe, Gloria, and Jay are consistently put in tertiary stories that not only lack any dramatic or comedic aspects, but usually stray into farce that simply isn’t funny. [...] The whole thing would land a lot better if we actually spent time in Alex’s head, understanding why she’s nervous and what that means to her worldview. Instead, “Commencement” introduces us to a distressed Alex in its final minutes, and expects the emotional crescendo to be effective. It’s a waste of a moment that Modern Family could have made special.