Students will plan a weeklong series of events to build a greater school community.
A large piece of paper or a digital space (like a Google Doc) for students to brainstorm, task-analyze, and assign responsibilities. (Additional materials will vary depending on activities planned.)
Two to three 20-minute council or chapter meetings at least one week apart
Start by asking students to define their school culture. What makes your school special? What do students value? In order for this to be a success, students will need to work together and gain buy-in from both administration and their fellow students (see feature). The objective of Student Week is to provide activities that help bring the school community together. This could be done as part of homecoming or at some point during the year. Students should generate a list of ideas that they believe will help students to better understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Once students generate a list of ideas, they should seek feedback from their peers. This point is also a good time to talk to your administration regarding logistics based upon the ideas the students have generated. Easy ideas include school spirit theme days, daily raffles, or student-generated memories (photos, quotes, etc.) that can be submitted via Twitter. Additionally, your council or chapter can work with other student organizations in your school to plan activities for the day. For example, bring in your favorite guest speaker to provide a motivational message, or host a student vs. faculty event. The goal here is for students to engage, together, in something. Really, the sky is the limit here!
After you have had time to gather input from the greater student body, students should begin planning in earnest. Students will need to handle various components such as advertising, activities, logistics, etc. If you will be having events that require admission, students will need to handle ticket sales.
During the week, your members should handle all aspects of the events planned. Depending on the size of your council or chapter, you may want to make a subcommittee for each day. Something to consider when planning an event of this magnitude is how to get as many people involved as possible. An easy way to do this is to ask teachers to offer nominations for student recognition. Read these on the morning announcements or, if your school has a Twitter account, tweet them out! Be sure to select a school-specific hashtag for the event.
The most important thing to remember after any council- or chapter-planned event is to reflect when it is over. Consider the following questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- How could more students be involved?
- Did this event help to build a school community?
- How can we, as leaders, help make our school a place where everyone wants to be?
Most importantly, students should once again ask their peers for input. Since student councils are representatives of the school community, it is important that large-scale events help to benefit the greater school community in some way. If students were not engaged in the event, was the event really successful? Finally, celebrate your hard work!
Katie Mercadante and Mike Waldron are student council co-advisers at Montour High School in McKees Rocks, PA.