In the year of a drama educator, the curtain goes down, so to speak, several times. There are, of course, the bittersweet closing nights of productions, but we also recognize the “closing of the school year.” Before sending your graduates off into the sunset and taking some much needed rest and relaxation for yourself (do we ever really do this?!?), here are a few ideas for putting an exclamation point on the end of your year.
HAVE AN HONORS CEREMONY
Whether you have officially chartered a thespian troupe or not (and if you haven’t, why not add this to your “to do” list…), consider hosting a “Thespian Honors Ceremony!” Not only can this serve as a great way to induct new members and recognize those who have contributed to the success of your school year, but it can also give you a reason to invite district administrators, board members, and other community stakeholders to an event that will help get the word out about the importance of arts education!
In addition to honoring the new members, we also recognize those who have put in extra hours, and of course, all of our outgoing eighth graders. There are lots of traditions you can incorporate as part of your ceremony.
Here are a few of my students’ favorites:
CHOOSE A TROUPE SONG
For the past two years, our inductees have processed in to the song Our Time from Merrily We Roll Along. Next year, we are going to take suggestions from students and a hold a vote for a new song. Nothing says “Drama Club” like student busting out a shared favorite showtune at the top of their lungs.
HONOR SOME KEY ADULTS
At our school, the [adult] production team chooses two parents who have been instrumental to the Drama Club’s success. You can choose the criteria that works for you; we usually pick parents of eighth graders who have helped us over multiple years. They are inducted a honorary thespians; EdTA takes care of the pin and membership card; we provide a card and small token of appreciation (flowers, gift card) for their service.
INSTALL NEW OFFICERS
Our executive board looks forward to giving their final remarks and passing the torch to the incoming group (they literally “throw the ball into their court.” Drama kids are all about puns and double meaning, aren’t they?!?). The single most favorite tradition is the “Legacy Trunk.” Each year, our outgoing board members choose three items (sentimental, funny, show related, etc.) to leave in the trunk. Before adding their own items, they hold up the items left in previous years and remind everyone who added it and why.
Nothing can become a “tradition” until you try it, so don’t be afraid to throw lots of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. Whatever you do, know that your students are thankful for the program, experiences, and “home” you provide. Enjoy a beautiful and healthy summer!
Holli Van Albanese
NJ Junior Thespian State Board