Shani Dowell, Possip Founder and CEO, shares several tips on celebrating graduating students!
The inspirational wishes for the graduating students will encourage them to excel in their studies and choose the right path in their life. We’ve provided ideas to help you start your celebration and appreciation!
Every celebration must have five components. Keep CARES in mind when planning creative milestone celebrations so that you have a framework to begin thinking about putting your event together. Here’s what it stands for:
One of the best times to build relationships with families and students is during a time of celebration. So, the celebration should find a way for people to connect with their community and feel a sense of “together”-ness.
When we receive public praise and support, there’s actually positive chemistry that’s happening in our brains. Our “feel good” endorphins are increased and “negative” cortisol levels are significantly lowered. This is especially important during this time of crisis for students when they’re struggling with anxiety and uncertainty. Focus on finding ways to acknowledge students during your celebration to make this a really memorable and positive event.
Participating in celebrations connects students to the bigger significance of our lives and their purpose. It provides a sense of appreciation for where we’ve been and where we want to go. Allow time for reflection for students and families to make it a purposeful time.
This is pretty self-explanatory, but celebrations add excitement and fun. This is the perfect opportunity to partake in the joys of life during a difficult time.
Our brain remembers memories that carry significant emotions to them. When we are celebrating, we are basically putting a marker in our brain for that positive emotional experience. How will you make this memorable for students? Also, how will you create tangible pictures/media/keepsakes to re-live these experiences in the future?
As we go through this, if you’re planning a Kindergarten graduation or a Senior graduation, keep these 5 components in mind and adapt these ideas to fit your needs!
Ideas to Celebrate Graduating Students
Have a Graduation Cap Contest
You can allow students to order their cap and gowns, and encourage them to decorate them, post them on social media or websites, and have a contest on how many “likes” they get. This idea will also allow students to have a personalized cap to celebrate their uniqueness during the ceremony.
Create a Graduating Class Website
Gather Senior Photos and Bios by asking students to submit them along with some fun facts. These photos and bios can be posted on a website for the senior class. You can think of it as kind of a living, breathing yearbook! There are also some website platforms where students and families post celebratory messages or comments for seniors, which would be a fun way to show extra appreciation and support.
Graduate Yard Signs
Some schools have created and posted yard signs in the community for each senior. This could be in a public area for people to walk or drive by, or they could be printed and given to families to put in front of their homes.
Social Media Campaign
This is a great way to build community. The school could have a “Senior Day” or “Senior Week” where a whole day or week is devoted to posting photos of the Senior class. Also, having an Instagram “hashtag” during that social media campaign can help students feel connected and celebrated and share other special memories they have from that time.
Senior Care Packages
Schools could partner with local businesses that need extra business to create “senior care packages” for graduation day. I’ve seen principals and school leaders drop this off and take photos with students. This could be school swag, maybe items for their dorm room, or sweet treats for the seniors.
Make it Student-Led
See what students want to do to celebrate. Students could design and perform a class dance that is recorded and sent out to the school body. Additionally, students could vote on a class song and someone can sing that, or someone can write a poem or spoken word and record it about the graduating class. These student-led experiences could be spread across a graduation week and allow students to take ownership of how they’re celebrated! Students are creative and want to be involved, so see what ideas they have!
Other “End-Of-Year” Celebration Ideas
Other students who are not seniors are still struggling without saying goodbye to their teachers and classmates. To get some closure for students, a few ideas include:
Ask students about their favorite memories and events during the year and create a “memory book” for students or another creative way to compile answers to give back to students as a ‘keepsake’ for the year.
End of Year Video
Get videos from students, teachers, parents, and leaders and compile an end-of-year video for the school. (A fun example I’ve seen is having everyone dance to the same song in their individual video and create an end of year “music video” to close out the year.
And of course, remember that we do celebrate our graduating students in this way to show appreciation for their hard work. So, use these celebrations as an opportunity to reflect on the year and make it special for all students!
If you want to brainstorm more about these events, email firstname.lastname@example.org!