June. In the day school calendar, you can almost hear each school exhale a sigh of relief. “We did it, another year under our belts.” Classrooms are filled with smiling teachers and students. The conversation around my breakfast table this year was about Color War, our school’s end-of-year tradition.
Whatever special tradition your school observes to mark the end of year, there is one all of ours share: Graduation. Whether your school is graduating 6th graders, 8th graders, or high school seniors, this is a pivotal moment for each Jewish day school graduate. Because the day after graduation they will become (drum roll please)
Alumni–the hot button word in the day school field. On a recent PEJE Development CoP call on the topic of Alumni Relations, one school noted that it is difficult to reconnect with Alumni once many years have passed. We have often heard that the schools that are most successful at building relationships with their alumni are those who start before the students are even alumni.
So, now’s your chance. Here are some ideas to begin to building those alumni relations:
- Ask your Board chair to send a handwritten note to each graduate’s parents saying Mazal Tov.
- Plan a reunion event now for next spring. Ask two graduates (even if they are 8th graders) to chair the reunion in 2011. Set a date now and let everyone know.
- This summer e-mail each graduate personally and ask them to stay in touch next year. Whether they are going to a high school, college, or a year in Israel, plan to invite them to visit school during the next year and speak with the next group of graduates about their experiences.
- Start a Facebook page for the graduating class and invite each graduate to join. Use this forum to keep track of the class and keep them connected to exciting things happening at school.
- Plan a holiday care package. Your fall will be so busy, create a plan now to send a Rosh Hashanah or Chanukah care package and remind those alums what is happening at school.
Alumni relations can be overwhelming, but what better way to start than with the class you are graduating this month.
Remember, it is because of their Jewish day school education that these graduates are prepared to go onto their next stage of life as committed, caring, creative and responsible members of the Jewish people. Take pride in them and make sure they take pride in their school.