How To Leverage Graduation & End-of-Year Events

Apr 15, 2023

Graduation and end-of-year events are key community-building opportunities for current and new families as well as your wider community. Let’s discuss some ways to leverage these events to assist with your marketing and retention efforts.


  • Invite new families to graduation. This is a great way for them to feel included and hear directly from your end-product students/families. It's an easy way to get the ball rolling without having an extra lift.
  • Share student profiles on social media and in newsletters. It's important to celebrate all of the hard work that went into getting to this point, as well as leave everyone feeling loved and cared about as they move forward.
  • Share graduate quotes and where they are going afterward. People always want to know "what's next." It helps them to feel there is a plan for the next stage, and they can see what others have done before them. To hear straight from students about what they loved most, or what they are going to miss...well that's just like gold!
  • Video interview graduating families. Capturing them at the time they are feeling the most reflective and sentimental is going to give you the most bang for your buck. Depending on the age of your students you could have other students do the interviews. Set up a small quiet space "a video booth", close to the action and easy to slip into on their way in or out and have a few questions prepared like what they loved most about their time at this school, what they’ll miss most, favorite teachers/subjects. Added bonus - transcribe and use as testimonials.

End-of-year events

  • Invite new students and families. Just like with graduation, it is an easy way to start helping them feel included. Prepare name tags for everyone and make the new families a different color. Let everyone know at the pick-up table that "the green tags are new families" to help encourage your current families to introduce themselves.
  • Take photos and share them with the wider community—in your communications to admissions lists, friends of the school, and on social media. Seeing the community as a whole enjoying time together will help to spark fond memories and show that there is more than just what happens in the classroom. 
  • Interview students about their favorite part of their year and transcribe for videos and testimonials to use over the summer. With our digital, visual age and having excellent cameras right on our phones, getting into the habit of doing quick, on-the-spot interviews is an important practice to have. Especially if you (or they) don't think they are good at it. You will never be comfortable doing something if you don't practice. Even if the actual video isn't "good enough" you can still pull text quotes and use those.
  • Celebrate the year with end-of-year classroom, grade/level, and community events. People need an opportunity to say goodbye and thank you. Even if they are returning in the fall, or be at your school through the summer, this is still the end of something. Send your community into the summer with warm and fuzzy feelings.
  • Schools tend to be exhausted and kind of forget about the need for closure. But the reality is that faculty and staff will benefit from this too. Having an opportunity for closure where your students and families can show their appreciation helps everyone to recognize why they do this, to begin with. Warm and fuzzy feelings are not just important for your families, everyone will benefit from a simple closure opportunity.

These are just a few ways to leverage your end-of-year celebrations. If you have any other ideas I would love to have you share them with us. Email me [email protected] or better yet, join us for our free Small School Leaders monthly Meetups where we discuss all things small school. Sharing strategies, wins, and losses with a community that understands the challenges faced by small school leaders is an important part of maintaining our passion for this meaningful work.

Our FREE Small School Leaders monthly meetup is the perfect place to find the support and connection you've been looking for! Put us on your calendar TODAY 👉