As a newly elected Student Body President, I was full of hope, and bereft of knowledge. Like so many people at the beginning of a journey, new WEB and Link Leaders, new teachers and new parents, I was enthusiastic and clueless. At that time of my life, it certainly would never have occurred to me to reach out to the person who had just spent a year doing the job, the outgoing President, unless my brilliant Activities Director had not orchestrated a perfect transition experience.
At the end of May, old and new officers all gathered for an evening banquet. Tables had been set out by the out-going officers one last time, while the new officers set the theme and decorated the room, for the first time as a team. We had a potluck where old and new were mixed together so that positions sat next to each other.
At the conclusion we had the “Pass the Treasure” ceremony. Each of the outgoing officers went up to receive previously collected praise from their friends, teachers and significantly, from our Activities Director. Then each of them read a short wish for the person taking over their position and they formally handed over their file box for the position. (This being the late 80’s we had actual paper files…I suppose today you might just hand over the ‘ceremonial google docs password’!)
The last part of the evening was spent mostly in pairs or small groups as the old and new sat down and went through the files. This part changed everything. I was twice the president I would have been because of this. More importantly, the outgoing president and I became friends in a way that we never would have as a result of this talk.
In general, we do a great job acknowledging the BIG transitions. In fact, in Link Crew and WEB we are “new beginnings” specialists. What we don’t seem to focus on too much is the little transitions. The saying goodbye to our outgoing Link and WEB Leaders. The welcoming of a new group. The simple ending of one full year of work and effort with the hopes of starting again in a few months with new enthusiasm.
School years have such a beautiful arc to them, and while the beginnings and the holidays get lots of attention, the end often gets lost in a morass of testing, graduation and pure exhaustion.
Here are some thoughts about ending the year with ritual and strength to validate the work that has occurred and to set up the next year with success.
- Host your own Transition Banquet
- Take the leaders to a minor league ball game near you (often less expensive and more fun!)
- Write letters of thanks to outgoing and advice to incoming
- Create a celebration ritual (specific day every year, specific song that plays at the end, specific celebration space, specific activity (childhood games, 10 minute dance, etc)
- Make them take the ICS test (Ice Cream Social, but don’t tell them that until they get there!)
- Go to a park for Saturday field day with competitions between outgoing and incoming
Find a way to celebrate your end of the year in a way that everyone feels that sense of completion and hope at the same time!