Congratulations! You’ve made it nearly to the end of the school year. It’s been a good one, and you’re already planning to have an even better one next year.
Before this year is in the books, there are still some things left to do. Among the most important that remain are your year-end events, ceremonies, and celebrations. Awards night. Honors ceremonies. The academy awards of your school!
Never underestimate the importance of these commemorations. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Year-end events reveal the culture of your school. What you take time to recognize, you must really value. So, the content and structure of these events display for everyone to see what you really believe is important. Have you focused on positive behaviors this year? Now is the time to reflect that with your year-end award presentation. If it’s citizenship that you want, make it a part of what you honor at years-end. Be intentional with your award ceremonies to highlight the work of those who have focused on what you had hoped they would.
2. Year-end events demonstrate the level of your expectations of excellence. Every event answers the question “who are we?” It is a reflection of you as the leader and the level of pride your school has in what it does. The intentional leader makes clear the expectations of what of it will look like at her school, and helps teachers and staff in shaping their events to meet those expectations. While it is not your role as principal to be the event planner or master of ceremonies for everything that happens at your school, you ARE responsible for setting the tone of what others will do. Without some direction, results may vary. What do you want these events to say about your school? You certainly want them to demonstrate a high level of professionalism. You want them to run smoothly, to be advertised well in advance, to be quality events. Don’t expect everyone to read your mind on what you are after; clarify your expectations and make sure that those who organize these events know that you want them to speak well of your school.
3. This is a great opportunity to show the world the good things that are happening at your school. Take pictures. Publish in your local newspaper. Use your school’s media sources like Facebook and Twitter to share your event. You can be posting pictures of award winners well into the summer if you want to! Again, this is an opportunity to share the work of individuals but also the beliefs of your school. Plan it in advance. Always have someone in charge of photography. Plan your follow up and coverage before the event begins.
4. Don’t Underestimate The Value of An Award . As a high school principal who believed in recognizing the works of our people, I can tell you story after story of appreciative parents and students who were excited beyond words to be recognized. These things matter. This is an opportunity for us to bring families, students, and our school together in this moment of celebration. This is one of your most important acts of the entire year. Smile broadly in every picture. These are the events that you should stay late for. Don’t be in a hurry to get everyone dismissed and move onto the next thing. Let them savor it, while you savor it yourself. This is the fruit of all your labor; don’t be quick to let it go. Bask in the glow and let the positive energy fuel your next quest.
5. This is a personal reflection on you, your beliefs, and your leadership. Everything that happened at your school should demonstrate a subtle sense of excellence. Make sure that there are ferns on the front of the stage. Have a tablecloth with your school’s insignia drape the table where the awards await the recipients. Print and distribute programs of the event for everyone’s scrapbooks, their drawers of awesome things, and other places where such important things go. Make sure that the sound system works and that you have a back up if it doesn’t. If you don’t have a great sound system, now is a good time to find someone in your community to volunteer to bring their sound system for your award ceremony. Use all of your resources to make this a moment that will be a great memory for all those who attend. Like a lot of things, if it goes well there are lots of people to thank and to give the credit to. If it doesn’t go well, well, you know who gets the blame. There’s no substitute for the planning that you can do right now to make sure that these events meet their potential and do all of the good that they can do. Enjoy planning these events to be the wonderful once in a lifetime thing they are intended to be.