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Covid-safe end of year school celebrations & graduations!

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While we’re all doing our best to keep our heads above water in the midst of a global pandemic and staying grateful for what we do have, it’s hard to ignore the devastating impact it is having on our kids when it comes to school graduations and all the rite-of-passage events that come with them. The great news is, there is light at the end of the tunnel in NSW, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing that school formals and graduation ceremonies will be allowed to go ahead in Term Four. Yet with clusters occurring and the threat of tightening restrictions ever imminent, many across NSW, and the rest of Australia, may still be looking for COVID-safe end of year school celebrations & graduations.

The world has changed this year, and most of us have wished away 2020 many too many times to count. It’s been hard on everyone, and while the sacrifices we have made have had a positive effect in terms of flattening the COVID-19 curve, it’s hard to ignore the mental health impact it has had on our community. One of the groups hit hard are our children, but especially those who are forgoing rites of passage they have been looking forward to for so many years now.

If you have a child in Year 6 or Year 12, we are here to help you make this milestone as memorable as possible. Here are some COVID-safe end of year school celebrations & graduations.

1. Graduation Ceremonies

While the traditional school assembly to farewell the departing class is unable to go ahead right now, students and teachers still have the opportunity to make the them feel special. Here are some ideas for Covid-safe end of year school celebrations:

Virtual graduation ceremony

While parents and family can’t attend in person, the school can set up a socially distance ceremony for just the students and allow parents and relatives to join on Zoom.

Small graduation ceremony

Instead of getting the whole year together and involving parents and other guests, split up the ceremony into smaller groups. Film each ceremony, so each student can go home and watch it with their family or with a small group of friends and still celebrate.

2. Last Day Of School

A big part of that last day is having parents, family and friends there to celebrate with the student. With no school assembly for parents to attend with flowers and other presents in hand to gift their graduating child, or other events allowed to mark this occasion, it’s time to get creative.

A socially distanced arch

Set up a ‘socially distanced’ arch to see them off. Have kids standing 1.5m apart and letting the graduating students run through one at a time to the cheers of other kids. Add music or a live band to add to the emotion!

Tour the school passing each classroom

Get each classroom to draw and colour farewell signs for their schoolmates. Post these up on the windows on their last day. Get the graduating class to do a lap around the school, with the kids inside the classroom cheering as they go past.

A festive school pick up

Get a teacher on the microphone, and get them to say a farewell message to each student as they’re picked up by parents and friends on their final day. Friends and family can decorate their cars, and organise an official photographer to take photos of this special occasion.

3. School Formal

The preparation that goes into a formal and school dances is half the fun. Kids begin discussing what they’re wearing, who they’re bringing, pres and after parties, months before the event takes place. It’s a topic of hot conversation throughout the year! Here are some ways kids can still enjoy a school formals part of their Covid-safe end of year school celebrations:

Formal pods

Originally created as study pods to keep kids connected through lockdown, formal pods are now being set up to host smaller scale, mini-formals that abide by the restrictions in place.

According to the NSW Government website, as at 7 September 2020:

  • Hospitality venues: For venues that consist of separate areas, the maximum capacity is 300 people in the separate area at any one time or one customer per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser. To be a ‘separate area’, the area must:
    • be separate from other areas on the premises
    • if food and drink services are being provided in the area, have staff that are providing food and drink service only in that area
    • not allow persons gathering in different separate areas of the venue to mingle.

Make the ‘pre’ party into an intimate formal at home!

Instead of hosting the traditional pres at someone’s house before a formal, organise a smaller formal at someone’s home. It still gives students the chance to dress up and see their friends, just in a different way.

Up to 20 visitors may visit another household at any one time. The total number of visitors includes adults and children. See NSW Government website for the latest rules.

4. Mementos

Covid-safe Year 12 memories

The ‘Mercy Together’ project

So many memories are made in these milestone years of schooling, and kept for years and years to come. With many events cancelled, it has been a lot harder for students. Here are some ways to create those special memories and keepsakes, while being COVID-safe:

Photo Wall

Get inspired by the Year 10 art students at Mercy College in Chatswood, who have created a very special photo wall as a graduation gift to their Year 12 Graduates for 2020. The ‘Mercy Together’ project is inspired by the well-known artist, JR who uses black and white portrait photographs of everyday people or people in difficult situations to confront controversial issues, raise awareness and bring people together.

Here’s how it was done:

  • Year 12 students were photographed making funny faces. A few students each held a letter to make a message (in this case, “Mercy Together” and “Good Luck Yr 12 2020”).
  • Teachers were photographed looking down (as if looking down on the students)
  • Photographs were printed in black and white on A3 paper
  • Printed photographs were stuck to a prominent wall within the college grounds, using homemade glue made from cornflour, vinegar and water.

Video montage

Put together a video interviewing current Year 6 or Year 12 students, asking them questions about their time at the school and what’s next. Put these videos together and play them via Zoom across the school.

Time capsule

What better time to put together a time capsule. Get every student in the year to fill one out, focusing on the current events and what the year has been like for them. Set a date to open them in the future. This creates excitement at the idea of getting back together with their classmates again one day in the future, while also giving them something to look forward to. It seems less final when you arrange a future event!

School photo

While some schools are still going ahead with school photos, others have missed out. With some good photoshopping skills, you can still get that whole year picture to keep as a memento. Get every student to send in an image, or better yet, have a photographer on hand to take photos of the kids one by one. Crop them all together and it’s the perfect gift.

A socially distanced photo in face masks!

Have fun! Never has any year being through what our graduating students are right not. Get them together for a socially distanced photo with masks on as a great memento of the year.

5. Graduation Dinners

Another highlight of the year that has changed. Thankfully, we can still get out and about to celebrate. It’s about changing expectations and making the most of what we can do in these times. Here are some great alternatives to the typical graduation dinner to make a part of your Covid-safe end of year school celebrations:

BYO picnic on the school oval

With plenty of outdoor space to enjoy, students can still socially distance in smaller groups, while being part of the graduating class community.

Socially-distanced barbecue

Another way to make use of the outdoor school space while creating some socially-distanced memories.

Intimate dinner at home or in a restaurant

Get together as a small group of school friends to celebrate with a special meal!

  • You could have it at home and get the meal catered (all the parents can chip in!) – with 20 max visitors allowed.
  • Or organise a meal at a restaurant – currently 10 people allowed at a table. You can get a small group together and still enjoy a meal out to celebrate!

Got any more suggestions on how to have Covid-safe end of year school celebrations? Email us today, we’d love to hear your ideas!

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