End of Year Traditions
Another year has wrapped up at Harding (or will in 6 days, but who’s counting?….Me.) and we’ve continued some traditions I began last year. This crop of seniors has been especially hard to say goodbye to. Last year, I started the school year in a wheelchair with a black eye. I’d just been in an awful life altering accident and wasn’t able to walk or even stand. The juniors of that year really took to me and helped me feel welcome, pushed my chair around the school, caught me up on the way things had been done, etc. Saying goodbye to a group of students like that has been hard, especially because they’re part of our choir family.
I want to share some of the traditions we do every year.
This is something that actually started when I was a senior in high school. My choir director had us all come in and place our handprint on his office wall, sign it and leave a message. Several years ago I had the chance to visit him and I found my handprint proudly saying “St. Olaf, UM YAH YAH!”. I started this tradition last year with my first group of seniors and continued this year. It was touching to see friends put their hands together, younger brothers place a hand by their older brother and see the pride and joy in each student as they beheld their hand.
The Stroebbie Awards:The StrThe
The Stroebbie Awards:
Nannette Stroebel was at Harding for 23 years and created the program that I’m now continuing. I really wanted to honor her last year and I made sure she was invited to every concert and that students saw us interacting in a positive way. (Unrelated: Nannette is a bad-ass lady and I love any time I get to spend with her. It was in her classroom, at Harding, while I did an urban semester practicum that I realized I wanted to be a teacher and loved Harding. Three years later, I was back and it was my classroom.)
Moving on: this is a Chamber Choir tradition inspired by the Ralph Awards at Olaf. Students take a paper plate, dedicate it to a senior and decorate it. We then did a “ceremony” (with music from the Oscars playing, thank you very much) where the underclassmen introduced the award and had the seniors guess. It’s a great way for the juniors to roast the seniors - cue LOUD screams of laughter, tears, hugs. It’s my favorite way of shouting out all the different personalities in our class.
Honorable mentions for creativity:
Triple A Award: Activist, American Indian, Alto
The Choir Ghost Award
Piano Man Award
Dark Side Award (band kid joined choir!)
I write every senior who comes through my program, whether for a semester or four years, a handwritten card. Choir is a family and I treat my students like they are a part of mine. We laugh, we disagree, we have inside jokes, etc, but we come back every day ready to make music and build community. I hope that my class is more than elective and that it becomes an opportunity for students to discover a hobby they can continue for a lifetime. I give the card to students as they come into my office to wash their hands from the handprints. I usually will say something before I give them the card and I treasure that 1-1 time for me to look a student in their eyes and remind them that they are important and a part of our community. I want them to know they made an impact on me and that I want them to NEVER STOP SINGING. I did this yesterday and then spent the rest of my prep in tears. How lucky we are to get to work with such incredible young people.
Oh and one more thing: Senior Prank.
Last but not least….I made the mistake of being gone ONE DAY and I return to find my office looking like this. I feel both attacked and touched that they are listening.
Happy end of the school year, folks. We did it!
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