By Linda Marrs-Morford, IPLI Director
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, 2016, and all eyes will be on Indianapolis. About this same time, numerous schools across Indiana will be finishing up their school year, and all eyes will be on our schools. Various special events such as honor banquets, award assemblies, and graduation will be in the spotlight. For these occasions, school principals want to ensure that everything goes well.
How does one accomplish this? Careful planning and communication are the keys to success. First, start by creating an event checklist for each event (see IPLI Blog – December 19, 2013- http://indianapli.wpengine.com/brand-new-post/). The event checklist will save lots of time and ensure that things are not forgotten.
School administrators should pay attention to details when planning. One of my former mentors told me to always over plan – be proactive versus reactive. What did she mean by this? Think of everything that will be happening during the event and try to anticipate what could go wrong (within limits). For example, your graduation ceremony is planned for a Saturday afternoon. What do you do if there is a tornado warning (Take Action!) during the ceremony. What if your speaker system goes out? Do you have enough parking? Even the littlest of things can ruin an event for all involved, so be prepared.
When planning for the end of the school year, don’t ignore the elephants in the room. For example, senior skip day is a headache for all – administration, teachers, students, and parents, and many schools just ignore the issue and hope there are no problems on this day. How are you going to deal with it? How will you communicate the school’s position on this issue? Many schools have worked with students to develop an alternative to senior skip day. For instance, one high school I am familiar with organized a senior picnic on school grounds during the seniors’ last week of classes. In lieu of senior skip day, seniors were released at 11:00 a.m. to enjoy the remainder of the day with their classmates. A local restaurant catered the event at a much reduced price, and faculty members were invited to join the seniors for lunch. Yearbooks were handed out during the event so students could sign. Various games and water slides were provided (PTA). A DJ also provided music for the afternoon event. Other schools have organized special senior trips to entertainment parks. Get creative!
For all special events, communication is critical, and I’m not just talking about communication with your staff. Make sure students and parents know what is happening. For example, when planning graduation, send regular communications about the event using parents’ and students’ emails, Twitter, website, newsletters, etc. Start early sharing information such as time and place of the event, how to order announcements, when to pick up caps and gowns, parking, how many guests are allowed, photo information, length of event, info about post-graduation events, etc. This will allow parents and students time to plan. No matter what the event or occasion, parents will appreciate hearing it directly from the school.
Happy planning and have a great end to your school year!