This year I has the privilege to attend two Galas to celebrate student achievement: an Athletic Banquet and an Extra-Curricular Gala.
The Athletic Banquet invited all of the student athletes, their coaches and other staff members who made the seasons possible (secretaries, etc.) to a dinner and awards evening. The evening started with dinner, whole team awards, followed by individual awards and concluded with a video made by the yearbook class showcasing moments throughout the seasons.
The Extra-Curricular Gale invited all of the students who participated in an extra-curricular activity (clubs, sports team, volunteering, etc.) for an evening of awards and dancing. The evening began with a welcome with dinner, whole team/club appreciations, followed by dessert, individual awards and then of course the dance.
The best part of the Athletic Banquet was how formal and professional it was. The way it was organized really gave a ‘classy’ edge to the event. Speeches for award winners reminded me of big award shows and it truly made a special moment for those winners. More than this, the points system for student involvement in sports was also a great way to see the number of students involved in more than 1 sports team throughout their high school career. Each “level” of points were called up and you could see a variety of grades, ability levels and social groups coming up for each level. But here, we only saw the achievements of our athletes and their teams; what happens to those students who may not be the best at a sport? What about our student’s multiple intelligences and different learning styles?
At the start of the event, I had two students come up to me as they were having difficulty finding a table to sit at (it was first come first serve). Many students from their sports team did not come to the banquet and they felt alone. Luckily, we found a couple open seats with some students who welcomed them in. This was not evident in the Extra-Curricular Gala.
At the Gala there was such a variety of students. This next part may sound stereotypical, but it is the best way to explain my point. In attendance you had your band members, who performed throughout the evening, the sports teams who brought banners to their school this season, the Student Council, the yearbook club, the drama club, the hockey team, the curling team, the MAGIC club and so many other students who fit into different extra-curricular activities. The evening was about community and celebrating the success as a school.
There were great awards given to students based on extra-curricular activities, sports contributions and leadership. When it came to the speeches, I felt that the recognition for those students got lost in either humour or unrelated information. Not all presenters wrote a speech for the award winners, some had the award winners come up and speak on their behalf. It just seemed to miss that aspect of formality and celebration for that student’s achievement.
So why can we not have an evening that celebrates all of the extra-curricular activities at school and showcases all student achievement? Why does Athletics need to have an evening all to themselves? How great would it be to award points to students based on their participation of all extra-curricular activities and showcase how much these students give back to their school? Why not have a formal evening for awards and special achievements, but end the evening as one community who appreciates all of their members?
I do not have answers to any of these questions, but I would love to see an evening from both of these events merged. One that balances individual achievement with community contributions and that allows all students to be recognized for their participation in all extra-curricular activities.
What does your school’s Year End Banquet or Gala look like? What is the message it sends to our students about what activities are the most important/recognized?