Celebrating My Seniors

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My senior IB literature students graduate this week, so we recently had a little celebration/send-off event during first period!

The school year is coming to a close at my school. Finals begin tomorrow. Senior grades are already submitted. Graduation is on Wednesday.

Every year, I use the last twenty minutes or so of our final class period to pass out personalized thank-you cards to each of the graduating seniors in my IB literature class (33 this year). Then, while they’re weak, I hit ’em with some Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! This year, I had my students memorize “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and we found a place to work it into Seuss’s text and recite it together. It was a great final send-off.

But after all the hard work of the IB program and a year in my class, I always feel the students deserve something more celebratory that honors the hard work and accomplishments of the last four years. I call it “Celebration Friday” (or Monday or whatever day it happens to fall on in any given year).

I give students breakfast (Costco muffins and OJ for the win!), decorate the class a bit, and put together a YouTube playlist of all their college destination fight songs to get them hyped about next year. I always save UCLA (my alma mater dear) for last and sing/chant cheerfully along to “Mighty Bruins.” If I can’t find a fight song recording for a school, I find an alternative video that celebrates their school: the alma mater, a school promotional video, maybe even a funny viral video like Colorado Colleges’s Harlem Shake. The final piece is nostalgic, cliché graduation music (Green Day, Beyoncé, OneRepublic) in the background while they sign their names and declared majors to signs I make for all the schools they’ve decided to attend. It doesn’t matter whether it’s community college or Princeton, every student’s post-high school destination is represented and celebrated. Yearbooks are signed, sentiments are exchanged, and pictures are taken (all for the Gram).

This is one of my favorite classroom traditions, and I think it does some justice to the hard-earned achievements of these kids and the memories we’ve made together throughout the year.

Please enjoy a slideshow of our 2018 Celebration Friday:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How do you observe the end of the year with your graduating (or promoting) students? What would you like to do at the end of the year to celebrate? Would you try something like “Celebration Friday”? Please share in the comments below!

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