Tag Archives: Senior Transition

Ideas For Graduate Recognition or Senior Night

As I mentioned last week, Senior Nights have their benefits.  And one of the greatest things about planning these events is the sky is the limit.  Typically, I try to plan the event around personality of the people graduating.  If it is a more outgoing group, I would try to get them more involved during the presentation.  For the introverted group, I would make it more low-key and enjoyable for them.  Regardless, I do my best on a reasonable budget, to make this night unforgettable and truly memorable for the senior and their families.  Here are a few ideas…Senior Night 2012

A Night at the Oscars. This took some prep work in our event planning. The month prior to senior night we had a video contest, where students would get together and produce their own short film. Little did the seniors know, this would play into their Senior Night. At the Senior Night, awards were given from those films such as best actor/actress, best film, best cinematography, etc. Oscars were made from gold paper (I still have mine in my window sill of my office.

The night was just like the Oscar night. Each senior was picked up from a designated area in a convertible donated by someone in the church. We pulled out the red carpet for our seniors to enter. The entire church was waiting for the seniors as the pulled in one-by-one. Each senior was interviewed in from of the church and cheered and celebrated.

The schedule began with an opening monologue, Oscar awards, band performance, video of seniors pictures given by parents, and time of prayer. The night also included a brief devotional by our lead pastor.Senior Night JPEG

Olympic Ceremony. Just like the Oscars, this took advance planning as well. Medals can be made or bought at a local party supply store. These medals were given in a special ceremony for each Olympic event the month prior.

A special host is needed for this event. In this case, I was Bob Hope. You can be creative with this. Other parts of the program included a live band performance, Gospel presentation, charge to seniors and families, video presentation of pictures of graduates growing up, commercials, and an unforgettable skit.MSM AWARDS

Awards Night. Again, needed a prior event for this senior night to work. So, we had a talent show the month before to allow for awards to be given. Awards were based on that particular night.  The creativity comes into play on this part of the night where you try to come up with as many categories as you can to give out as many awards as you can.

Schedule included recorded testimonies of lessons learned from the seniors, red carpet entrance and interviews, monologues for presenters, memory/picture video of seniors, and special guest host.Presentation

Price is Right. We really outdid ourselves this year. Set design, logos, name tags, host scripts, items up for bids, prizes to be won, cars given away (matchbox, of course…what budget do you think I have?), and much more. It was incredible.

Again, we invited the church. But this time, they were the audience helping each contestant. There was only 2 seniors this year, so they were the 1st two contestants called. We had 4 games ready to play (can be found here), and the seniors each played the game, along with two other contestants. We had a digital wheel to spin. And even a showcase showdown!

The night began with a devotional, and then the worship center turned into the set of the Price is Right. The whole audience had a blast, and it was a very memorable night for our seniors and their families.

It did take a tremendous effort from our leaders who designed the set, got sound effects for the show, helped the students design t-shirts, gathered prizes, and the list goes on and on.

Keys to Remember:

  • Always involve the church. Whether it is at the arrival of the seniors or as audience members…invite the church to be part of this experience. This is very important.
  • Planning – make sure parents/families are given advance notice so they can be a part of the special night.
  • Involve the younger students in the planning process – give them assignments with decorations, food prep, or parts in the program.
  • Gathering Time – After the event, gather the seniors and their families along with the rest of the youth ministry and get some pizzas and play some games to round out the night. Does not have to be long, but will help bring everything to a good end.
  • If possible – keep the theme a secret from the seniors. It adds to the anticipation in the days prior to the event for the graduations.

What are some of your senior celebration ideas?

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5 Reasons to Host a Senior Night Celebration in Your Youth Ministry

Senior night celebrations are special in many ways.  If you think it does not have an impact on the graduating seniors…think again.  Here are just a few good results of a well planned senior night celebration.Presentation

  1. Appreciation & Care. Show the seniors you love them, care about them, and are not going to forget about them when they leave the youth ministry. Shower them with thoughtful gifts like cards signed by the entire student ministry. Books that will have an impact on this stage of their life (examples: Just Do Something or Dear Graduate). And it doesn’t hurt to throw a gift certificate in there like iTunes or Chipotle.
  2. Easing the Transition. These seniors have been with you for 6-7 years, so this is not an easy transition for them. So make it easier on them. Invite the young adult ministry to the senior night celebration. Put them in an adult or young adult small group before they exit youth ministry to ease into the transition. Set apart certain times where they visit adult programs and classes before graduation. We are losing way too many seniors after graduation from the church. We need to do a better job in transitioning them into the life of the church. (By the way, this should happen from when they are in children’s ministry, but I’m talking about specifically seniors right now)
  3. Celebrate Good Times, Come on! Make it a celebration. Next week, I will give some ideas of some senior nights we have done in the past. And let me tell you, these are some of my favorite nights in youth ministry. Memorable, fun, impactful and purposeful nights that students, parents, and families have enjoyed.
  4. Honoring One Another. Senior Celebrations also allow the other students to honor the graduates. Each year I have the seniors give at least one lesson they have learned over the years to pass along to the younger students. Many have encouraged the younger students to attend certain events, or take advantage of certain things, and others have given powerful lessons they have learned along the way.
  5. Great Ending. What makes a movie, book, or story memorable…well, it’s a good ending, of course. Same for your graduates. Allow the seniors to have a lasting memory of how things ended, leaving with a sweet taste and an eagerness to continue serving and being a part of the local church.
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2012 Goals – How did I do?

Why set goals and not take the time to check them off.  Sure, God gets the credit, but you get to cross it off the list.  And man, that is a good feeling.  So let’s take a look at the 2012 Goals, and give myself some grades.

  1. Provide more leadership for students, become more student-led –One big thing I did this year was hand over the worship band to a student.  Straight up. Took some faith, but it was in capable hands. So I took it a step further, I gave the students 1 youth group a month…literally gave it to them.  The 1st Sunday of the month, they do everything – I’m talking attendance, announcements, opening game, worship, & prayer time.  GRADE:  A2012goals
  2. Find more ways for students to connect & serve within the church – Students were already doing children’s ministry, my goal was to expand the students involvement and expand the student involvement.  Sounded like I repeated myself, but I didn’t, so leave me along Grammar Police!  What I did was raised the number of students involved in children’s ministry and I also raised the expectation of service for the experienced students (example:  some taught the lesson, and others were in charge of the craft/game).  Students can’t be just there to get out of service, because they won’t be able to get of service (see what I did there?).  GRADE:  B
  3. Begin contacts & establishing a public school ministry – Why is this so hard?  I attended a FCA meeting, and was able to make some visits to school’s extracurriculars.  However, I did not meet my goal.  Principals don’t want to return calls to youth pastors, so they don’t, and I haven’t had a door to walk through yet.  I may have found one recently, so stay tuned.  But otherwise, this was my biggest failure.  GRADE:  D
  4. Summer Mission Trip & Training – 4 months of training – included high behavioral expectation, weekly homework, development of several kid’s chapels, and raising funds.  Then, the trip itself was a complete success.  How do I measure that?  Through the growth of the teens both on the trip and after.  God also blessed us with 2 salvation decisions of kids…amen!  GRADE:  A-
  5. Attend Teen Leadership Conference – 4 Teens attended.  4 Lives were changed.  GRADE:  B+
  6. Better visitor  follow-up & visitor return – Ok, I developed a visitor follow up procedure.  But I still have not had the return that I would like.  Out of the 23 visitors, only 3 are regular attenders.  Sure, the others have repeated visits, which is great, but the regularity needs to improve.  GRADE:  C-
  7. Better orientation for 7th graders – Designed a program/class to help transition the 7th graders and had an event to help with the transition.  Seemed to be effective, but attendance of class was minimal.  Thought good, execution poor.  GRADE:  C
  8. Better Transition for Seniors into Young Adult & Adult Ministries  – This was a home run.  I did a series on worldviews that transitioned the seniors into the young adult ministry.  Saw a great return in that investment.  One senior in particular, who may not have made a clean transition otherwise, is thriving due to the gradual transition from youth group to young adult.  Very pleased with how things went.  GRADE:  A
  9. Continue ministry training/mentorship with senior pastor – How many youth pastors can say they both love their pastor and love the mentorship they receive.  Two thumbs up from this guy.  I’m serious.  So much knowledge, wisdom, and experience in that man, and I’m blessed to have it passed to me.  GRADE:  A
  10. I had a goal a few years ago to read at least one book a month. So let’s go for 2 books a month this year.  By my count, I have read 13 books with 5 almost finished or partly finished.  Unless magazines count, I’m gonna fall short of this goal.  GRADE:  Incomplete

Grade Point Average:  3.0, with average grade of B (not counting Incomplete)

Conclusion:  Sure some of these things were out of my control and some were set too high (I’m a slow reader!), but overall a B average is pretty good.  However, it isn’t good enough, especially when we are talking about ministry.  There are areas for improvement for sure.  IT was nice to see that these goals were measurable and somewhat reachable.

It is a blessing to do God’s work, and God deserves straight A’s.  Please pray that I can get better grades next year!  (2013 Goals – Stay tuned for next month’s blog entry)

How did you do?  Were there things that could not be accomplished on your 2012 goals list?  What are some goals you have for 2013?

 

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