We all likely know a senior whose idea of graduation dissolved into thin air during March of 2020. No prom. No graduation ceremony with proud family obnoxiously screaming their name through a megaphone. No big party back at the house, and no communal transition into summer by the pool or around the grill. It’s a different kind of graduation this year, and many seniors feel like their hard work doesn’t matter, or that they’ve been forgotten. This is a sad reality right now, but it need not be that way! There are many creative ways that the local church, and especially the youth leaders, can go above and beyond to recognize seniors and honor their hard work and accomplishments! Here are some thoughts:
- Attack that front yard.
I’m talking go through balloons and streamers in their school colors and make sure the whole neighborhood knows that house contains a 2020 senior! A lot of schools offer signs you can put in the front yard; make a sign of your own from your church and post it in the yard; maybe even get the senior pastor of your church to sign it along with you and your ministry team! The more individual attention shown, the better!
- Encouraging Notes (Sidewalk chalk, post-its, etc.)
If you’d can’t go too crazy with the yard, write encouraging notes on their sidewalk! Do they live in an apartment? Cover their door with post-it notes in all different colors so they don’t miss anything!
- Virtual shout-outs
Students are on social media all. the. time. so why not recognize them while they’re there? Tag them individually in a post. Post videos about them on TikTok or YouTube. Learn from parents what clubs and activities they were a part of, and tag those organizations so the National Honor Society or Key Club can comment on that post congratulating them, too.
- Senior Recognition Sunday, Zoom Style
A lot of churches will use a portion of their Sunday morning gathering to honor graduates: they call them up to the front, share the school from which they’re graduating, and announce future plans (college, military, etc.). Since that’s not something we can do, utilize Zoom to stream this online! As pastors are streaming services anyway, check with your senior pastor to make sure you can use a portion of Sunday service streaming time to Zoom those seniors into the service and announce them live and in person to your congregants!
- Proms & Moms
Prom… is obviously canceled. But that is not a reason to forego getting dressed up! During this season of senior proms when you can’t just go out with friends and dates, dress up with your mom at home and take pictures with her! This could end up being something super memorable for both of you: it could also provide a solid Mother’s Day gift (…yes, Mother’s Day will be different this year, too!). But take photo submissions, post them, tag them, and give away a gift card in a drawing to increase participation across your church!
- Put together a senior digital yearbook page.
Ask seniors to send in their senior photo, school, and plans for the future to compile a “digital yearbook” for your church. Email it out to your congregants and celebrate their accomplishments! Perhaps even make individual PDFs the families can print and frame, or even go the extra mile to print and frame them yourself with a written note from your church, and mail them as a graduation gift.
- Encourage your students to go beyond themselves this season to encourage others.
Students can honor one another, then tag friends to pass this trend along. Perhaps start off with a hashtag #2020Legacy, etc., and watch the online encouragement from senior to senior grow online. Perhaps even encourage them to use this platform to share their testimony and the gospel, giving God the glory for what He’s doing in the midst of a trying time. Let students shout out to other students, teachers, coaches or mentors and give a personalized note of thanks online.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list! What are ways you’re loving your seniors during COVID-19?