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How to communicate end of year events for your high school
High school communication strategies are crucial for end of year events. Here are several different ideas of how to communicate these end of year events to your families, students, faculty and community.
During the last couple weeks of school events and activities, the school acts as the marching band conductor and the seniors like marching band participants—but everyone is playing a different song, and it’s very hectic. Emotions are high with the graduating class, their families, and a community braced for some late nights of tire screeching, loud parties, and toilet paper hanging from trees.
To put on this “production,” schools have to be organized with the different types of communication they will need between families, students, other schools in their district, and the outside community. Outlined below are end of year activities and tips on how to best communicate them to the appropriate audience.
High School Family Communication
The most important communication during these last couple of weeks of school is with your families. As stressed as your high school is with getting grades out, coordinating a graduation ceremony, and end of year finals, families are just as busy planning graduation parties, coordinating with relatives, and emotionally preparing for their 12th graders to be done with school and move to their next life path. Because these events are so important, we recommend sharing the information in as many places as possible.
“How to Graduate” should be visible on your website on the 12th grade page. It should also be on the district site, as well as a quick-link on your homepage during the last semester
Who Is Graduating
Sometimes the final graduation list comes down to the wire as tests are graded and final assignments are turned in. Link your attendance notifications with your grade data to alert students who are on the verge of not graduating that there are missing assignments, etc. Make sure those notices are going out in the languages spoken at the district so all families can be aware if they need to speak with a teacher, or help their student “find” that missing homework assignment.
Caps & Gowns
This is something that could be announced on social media, the high school website, as well as an email to all families. For administrative simplicity, we recommend the C.O.P.E. (create once, push everywhere) method if your communication system allows. That way, no matter what channel of communication families are using, they will know they need to order and then pick up their senior’s cap and gown.
School to Community Communication
These types of communication are mainly focused on your school’s website and social media. Communicate things such as:
You can even charge for them to raise money. Have a corner of your homepage dedicated to a new senior every day leading up to graduation or even post graduation. Did a senior get a full ride to a college? Did someone get an athletic scholarship? This is a great way to not only celebrate your seniors but also celebrate your school for facilitating this accomplishment. During COVID this was a popular tradition, but let’s continue it. We know those seniors will share the link on social media, and every link helps with SEO!
Use your school’s homepage to announce details of the ceremony for in-person guests, and share the streaming or Zoom link for out-of-town relatives. If your home page allows you to update it from a mobile device, having someone at the ceremony take a couple photos and upload them live to the website is a great way to include anyone who could not attend.
We’ve all seen the college acceptance videos on social media:Your school should be promoting these as well. Maybe not with a bed party, but on your homepage showing a scrolling marquee or slideshow of all the colleges where your seniors were accepted. This is something that’s great for this time of year, but wouldn’t hurt to leave up for bragging rights to prospective families with kids in middle schools.
Some districts rely on strong intradistrict communication during this time to celebrate and coordinate these milestone events happening at the high school. Here’s how:
Elementary School Senior Walk-Through
This requires announcing to two different groups of staff when this is going to happen. Use your direct communication to email staff from both schools to coordinate this. If your website has a staff section that’s password protected, or staff can login from single-sign-on, use that section to post details so it’s a surprise to the elementary students.
Letters to Seniors
The priceless “please be safe” and “please don’t drink and drive letters” from the middle schoolers to the high school seniors are another intradistrict communication hurdle to pull off. Coordinating the creation, pick up, and delivery of these letters also requires the ability for schools to email from a district level and select multiple contact lists. Teachers are extra busy this time of year—add a text to the email as well so nothing is missed!
High School to Student Communication
How are you engaging with your high school students? We recommend sending information straight to their mobile devices either through your school app or social media. Seniors around graduation time are busy coordinating with their school for things like:
This is something to communicate through your school app or social media—where your students are most of the time. Use online forms with a payments module to ask for money for the senior gift. Some schools make it an “open” amount request and raise more than the requested amount from students for a nice gift from their class.
Publish Senior Week activities on social media as well as your school app. Make sure the social posts link back to the senior page on your high school website to include the families of the seniors on what day exactly is senior ditch day, and what day is the BBQ. Because senior week has so many moving parts, make the schedule your high school’s home page pop-up alert as well as adding the events to your calendar.
Communication Tips Summary
- Online forms with payments - For quick donations & easy payments (cap & gowns)
- Homepage spotlight message - Highlight seniors (families pay to highlight their senior)
- Direct messaging to staff - For reminder emails and texts on intradistrict happenings
- Attendance notifications - For families with students missing assignments, sent in their language
- Social media and school app - For graduation events
- Homepage slideshow - To highlight college acceptances
- C.O.P.E. (create once, push everywhere) - For important updates and messages such as Don’t forget to order your senior’s cap and gown!
There’s one other end-of-year event that is most looked forward to at schools and by the senior class, and that’s the senior prank. Ironically, the communication and organization of this milestone event is not through any of the channels your school provides, and seems to transpire through secret handshake, old fashioned note passing, and cafeteria gossip. Good luck with that one!