I can't help sharing the graduation of our daughter, Lauren, from 8th grade. She received the President's Academic Award of Excellence (based on GPA and SAT Scores) and also received a plaque for being on the honor roll all 4 quarters. There was a Jr. High banquet - and I helped "Stage" the centerpieces - and the kids were all dressed up, and then the following evening was the actual ceremony with their graduation gowns. This was the highlight of my week last week - my husband and I are so proud!
I recall my own 8th grade graduation - I do remember wearing a long sundress and had my hair up in a braided side-do for our outdoor ceremony, but we did not have a big banquet or awards, and did not wear a gown - not until high school. Seems that the formal process for high school and college graduations has trickled down to 8th graders now.
Next year - we'll have a 9th grader, 7th grader, 5th and 4th graders and for now are just enjoying the summer!