Last month I was asked to share a webinar on how to prepare for our state’s accreditation visits. I decided to begin the conversation with the practical steps we take with my school team on sharing, planning, scheduling, and compiling for accountability.
Half way through the webinar, however, I switched gears and talked about celebration ideas our students and teachers had embraced for finishing the school year with enthusiasm. One way my school’s student leaders wanted to end the year was by doing something to help others. They designed an amazing idea called BARK week. Our school mascot is the Bulldog, so the theme fit perfectly.
Here’s an explanation our student council sponsor shared a month in advance:
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. We don’t have all of the events planned yet, but when we do, I’ll pass along the info.
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.
More Ideas for Celebration
In some ways it may seem unrealistic to expect students and teachers to have the same energy and enthusiasm for finishing as they had when beginning a school year. But 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:
- Sharing top-ten lists with students
- Celebration final exams
- Water-bottle toasts
- Complimenting discussions
- Surveying for celebration moments
- Writing letters to students
- Planning an Oscar event
Another popular high school idea has been to have seniors don their caps and gowns and walk the halls of elementary schools as a way to inspire and model achievement for younger grades. Our seniors are planning a graduation walk this year as well, and of course, we will end the year with the biggest celebration of all: a rousing graduation ceremony.
Let’s Wrap This Up
One of the exciting moments from our student BARK week was the response they received from others. 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 a local shelter.
It was another positive way to add to the momentum of positivity our teachers and students had been encouraging all year with their Class Cup and Good Deeds Awards. But most importantly, these are learning moments about helping others that some of our students will remember for years to come.
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. However you choose to end of school, make it the kind of ending you would want for yourself if you were a student.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are some other ways you are planning to end the school year with enthusiasm or celebration? How can you plan ahead for events or moments you want students to remember years from now?
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