Sunday, August 4, 2019

My Favorite Last Day of School Traditions

So many people are spending #MTBoSBlaugust writing about what they'll be doing on the first day of school, but I want to talk about one of the most special days of my year- the last day of school!

I teach primarily seniors. We typically have 4-5 weeks after the AP exam and by the end of June,  class can feel a lot like this:
Actual Photo of AP Calculus Class in June
But the very last day is special- a sacred time where students can reflect on their growth as a person and be sent on their way into life after high school with love and support. The things below are some of the things that make me love it so, so much.

An Individual Card
I live for a custom card. I made my husband and dog dress up in matching pajamas last year for our christmas card. It never gets old to me- truly. 

With that in mind, I started making custom cards for my kids and writing them each personal note. Staples almost always has a Groupon to get enough cards for all my kids for $20 and I use E-Bates too, so it's not particularly costly. I include my favorite quote, a math-y pun, and my email sot hey can keep in touch. Here was this year's card:

It takes a long time, but I write each senior a card. I get so many emails in October or May of the next year, when kids come across the card in their dorm room and decide to drop a line and say of my favorite day-brighteners. 

A Keepsake
One of my middle school teachers did this for me and I continue to pay it forward. I ask all my seniors and many of my colleagues to tell me their favorite trait about each student that I teach. I put them all together anonymously and give them out to the students to keep. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:

I laminate these and hand them out to wallet-sized cards.

An Explanation 
The first thing my senior gift includes is this small note of support and an explanation of the keepsake:

"Your time at SSHS is coming to an end...your next big adventure awaits! Know that life has lots of twists and turns in store for you-some amazing and exciting, some terrifying and heart-breaking.When life gets hard, it’s easy to forget how important you are to others and how much power lies within you. I hope that this card serves as a reminder of the impact you’ve made and the amazing things others see in you, even when it’s hard to see them within yourself. Tuck it away and take it out on a day when it’s hard to remember who you are and why you’re so important. You always have a home and team of cheerleaders here at SSHS. So proud of you!-Mrs Gironda"

An Inspiration
I try to either show a video or read something that will inspire my students. This year, it was this. I think it might be this forever. I cried reading it in every. single. class. 

The ending of the reading, just like the end of the school year, just hits me right in the heart:

"Summer beckons, a great, green, gorgeous gift. We’ve already kept you far too long, so let us send you forth with just one last reminder of a truth that somehow you already understand, though school is not the place where you learned it:

Life is not a contest, and the world is not an arena. Just by being here, unique among all others, offering contributions that no one else can give, you have already won the one prize that matters most."

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