A crown of laurel leaves for high achievement is a tradition dating back to the ancient Greeks. Our niece, Emily, recently graduated from high school. Because she was her class valedictorian and all-around wonderful person we made her a wreath of fresh bay. The freshly picked leafy stems are woven into a circle and tied with green floral tape. The soft young leaves were snipped off leaving only the sturdier year old growth. A wreath like this easily dries and can be saved as a memento or hung in the kitchen for cooking.
A few years ago we were in Padua during university graduation festivities. All the Baccalaureates were wearing wreaths on their heads or around their necks.