Yolanda King Stephen
Cancelling School Shouldn’t Cancel Your Final PR Senior Year Plans
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
When school was announced closed for in-person learning for the remainder of the academic year, I personally went through a myriad of emotions. It was not how I envisioned the seniors in my three high schools across the district remembering their last quarter of high school. I didn’t want the billboard in their minds – or their parent’s minds – to read either of these:
My Senior Year was Cancelled Because of Covid
Coronavirus Cancelled My Senior Year
Covid-19 Made My Senior Year 2020 Suck
I think you get the picture.
While we, as adults, can empathize with the lasting memories of our senior year, how can we help mirror those moments for seniors who have been robbed of having those memories in a safe environment? We know who we went to prom with, or who we wanted to go to prom with. We remember signing yearbooks and putting crazy comments on our best friend’s pages of autographs. We remember senior skip day. We remember walking across the stage as a final hooray that we did it. It was the essentially the grand finale of our young school years.
Many of our seniors – and parents – feel those moments have been snatched away never to return again. While there is quite the uncertainty nationally due to health care concerns and the pandemic, there is a way that we can make our seniors feel seen and represented. Here are eight ideas to get your juices flowing. Maybe you can adopt, or adjust, a few to fit what works for your district and your PR budget:
1. Senior spotlight: Create a senior spotlight template in Canva or any other easy-to-use design software. Dress it up in school colors to get a little snazzy with it. Send out a short Google Form on social media that has a few questions for seniors to answer (high school, plans after graduation, what they miss the most, and any sports or activities they participated in). Ask them to complete the form and attach a photo. Copy and paste the information from the Google Form into the template. If you have a large number of seniors, say you will only post three-five a day as not to overwhelm your office staff (which is probably you!).
2. Yard Signs: While this may be a big expense, aren’t the seniors worth it? Provide each high school with a budget if you have a good number of schools. PTO organizations or local business partners may even chip in. It’s worth an ask. We have about 800 seniors and I’ve found pricing as little as $10 for two-sided, four color print signs. If you can’t splurge for actual yard signs, why not create a virtual template and share it with parents on social media? It’ll be super cool to see the pages light up with your created yard sign template containing your district and school logos.
3. High School Takeover: Give each school two-three days to highlight seniors on your social media channels. This could be a photo montage created by the school’s administration, teachers, or office staff. It could be a video, it could be a word from the principal, or kind words from teachers who teach senior classes. This takes the work from you and gives schools a chance to provide something from them for their seniors on a larger platform.
4. Balloons on Mailboxes: This may sound a little corny at first, but hear me out. Ask parents to place two balloons on their mailbox to show there is a senior living in that household (kind of like the yard sign but more cost effective and it will be on parents to provide balloons for their household). The balloon can be the high school colors.
5. Send a Message from the Superintendent: Create a template with a short message from the Superintendent. Mail it to every senior household. That’s right, snail-mail it. You can also post the template on your social media pages and ask for all senior parents to share. If you’re going to post on social sites, make sure to do it about a week after the cards have gone out. They should be a welcomed surprise from the Superintendent before the community sees the senior memento.
6. Virtual Senior Prom: Host a virtual prom where students and/or parents send in photos or a short video of seniors in their prom dresses and tuxedos. If you have multiple schools, create one video montage with schools listed in alphabetical order. Or, after everything is lifted and health concerns are removed, host a combined prom for seniors over the summer months.
7. Partner with your local newspaper: Want to give parents a keepsake? See if your local newspaper will run a special edition for seniors. It’s worth an ask or a small price to pay that can help the newspaper and the district as you are looking to highlight seniors.
8. Create a virtual graduation announcement: If your district or school has announced they will celebrate with a virtual graduation, don’t forget to provide the virtual announcements! My district has already committed to holding an in-person graduation when health concerns are lifted. If we were to move to virtual graduations, I would definitely do a huge announcement.
We all realize this is a difficult time. My thought is to help bring some solutions to parents and communities looking for something positive and some semblance of natural order. Hopefully these ideas will help spark pride and optimism in your students, parents, and community. Good luck, stay safe, and stay sane!