PMPEncore065: Ending the School Year with Celebration

Last year my student council members came to see me about an idea they had for finishing the year with positivity.

Photo by Baim Hanif – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

These student leaders wanted to end the year was by doing something to help others. They designed an amazing idea called “BARK” week. With the school mascot being a Bulldog, the theme fit perfectly.

In order to set expectations in advance, the student council sponsor shared out the following announcements with her fellow teachers:

Good morning! Student Council and the Leadership class wanted to start a Philanthropy Week this year, where we have events every day during one week, and all proceeds will go to a designated charity. The week we have chosen is May 1st – 5th. The kids came up with the name “BARK Week,” BARK is an acronym for Bulldogs Achieving Real Kindness.

We are raising money for Pearl’s Hope in Tulsa, OK. It is a 10-month transition home for homeless women and their children, so they do not have to be separated. While in the home, women take classes on interviewing, teamwork, financial planning, cooking, etc. Pearl’s Hope ensures that the children and mothers have clothing, a car, a job, and a home before they leave. Attached is the t-shirt we will be selling for BARK Week.

I was proud of the teachers and students for the positive mindset they had going into the final weeks of school. And the response was amazing. Community members participated in clothing swaps, students bought lots of tacos and ice cream, and in one week, our students raised $1,500 and lots of clothes donations to benefit an additional local shelter.

It was another positive way to add to the momentum of the school year, but most importantly, these were learning to help others—lessons some of them will remember for years to come.

More Ideas for Celebration

This week, I want to share some ideas from a past episode on ending the year with celebration. You can see the original post from episode 065 here. Although it may be difficult to end the year with the same energy and enthusiasm you had at the beginning a school year, it is not unrealistic to dream and prepare for ways to encourage high expectations for the last days of school.

In June 2016, blogger Vicki Davis shared a great list of tips for teachers who want to finish the year with celebration on her Eduotopia’s website. Check it out here.

Her tips included 8 ideas for teachers to wrap up their last day of classroom time with ideas like:

  • Coming up with a top-ten list of best moments from the year to share with students
  • Turning final exams into a celebration time by providing desserts and treats available after testing
  • Ending the year with water bottle toasts for every student
  • Designing an entire lesson around sharing compliments
  • Including surveys for remembering best celebration moments
  • Writing letters to students so they remember significant ways they contributed throughout the year
  • Planning an “Oscar event” by inviting students to come in formal wear for a celebration time

Parading Seniors

Another great moment for seniors included adding new element of celebration into graduation week. Seniors wore their caps and gowns and visited our elementary and middle schools the day before graduation. Students and teachers lined the hallways to applaud them. Younger students were inspired and seniors felt like rock stars.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Remember the enthusiasm you had as the new school year began? How can you end with some celebration and positivity? Yes, it may be hard to end with high enthusiasm when the list of to-do’s is long, but don’t forget how you end is as important as how you begin.

Now It’s Your Turn

How can you end the year with encouragement and inspiration? What are some ways you can plan now to end the school year with enthusiasm or celebration? What’s one step you can take this week with others on your team to plan ahead for events or moments you want students to remember years from now?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker