Graduation Gifts and Events for School Leavers

Graduation Gifts and Events for School Leavers

There are many differing opinions on school leaver or graduation gifts and whether they should be funded by the P&C/P&F. There is often hot debate about spending funds on a select group of students when it doesn’t benefit the whole student body. In a broad sense, however, if funding such gifts is something that your committee does every year, it WILL benefit their child when they reach that stage in their schooling life.

Another option again is to turn the idea of a ‘gift’ into a ‘memento’ and make it a fundraiser at the same time! The money that you make could go towards subsidising a graduation dinner or celebration. There are lots of options that the kids will love and won’t require a heap of work from your committee.

  • Senior t-shirts – An oldie but still a goodie and a reasonably priced option. Seniors will often contribute to or even fully design what the shirts will look like and they typically have a list of all graduating student names on the back.
  • Personalised jersey, jackets or hoodies – These are a popular option. Designed in the school colours with the students last name on the back with their year of graduation underneath. Some schools order early in the year and allow seniors to wear them to school as part of their uniform.
  • Year book – In this wonderful age of digital technology, these are easier than ever to put together with some suppliers offering templates which you can drop your text and images into. These are a great way to record all the events of their last year in one place.
  • Graduation bears – Two options are available when it comes to bears. One is the signature bear that students can get their friends and class mates (and even teachers) to sign and the other is a cute little bear wearing a t-shirt that can be customised with your school logo and text of your choice.
  • Customised merchandise – This category covers all things from keyrings to pens and hats, rulers to mugs and everything in between!
  • Autograph book – Going a bit old school with this one, but if you didn’t want to have to go to the trouble of putting a whole year book together, you could gift a customised autograph book to each student for them to have their friends and class mates sign and write messages in.

If you’re looking for something a bit more practical, then you could look at calculators (because we all know it doesn’t matter how many you have, you can never find one when you need one!) or perhaps a dictionary or photo frame.

Ultimately the decision is up to your committee and if you do decide to fund gifts for the kids who are leaving, another option is discussing splitting the cost with the school.

Graduation Events

Ok, now that we’ve got that bit sorted, let’s look at graduation event ideas and how you will mark the ‘end of an era’ for those moving on.

School formal – The first suggestion is the time honoured tradition of the school formal. A rite of passage that is reserved for those in Grade 12 and boy oh boy haven’t those evolved since the good old days of your mum whipping up a fabulous taffeta dress for the occasion 😉  (If anyone has photos from ‘back in the day’, we’d love to see them!)

Graduation dinner – The primary school equivalent of the high school formal but usually without as much expense for the parents! Kids get the chance to dress up and arrive in their finery. Some are even given the red carpet treatment with photos and all. But it certainly doesn’t have to be that fancy and a set menu dinner at a local restaurant can be just as good.

End of year BBQ or picnic – Invite all grade 6 or grade 12 students, families and teachers along to celebrate the end of the year. Provide a sausage sizzle or ask each family to contribute to putting a buffet together for everyone to enjoy.

Pool party – If your school is lucky enough to have a pool, throw a Hawaiian themed pool party. Lots of room for decorations and easy catering options available too.

Disco – Themed or not, at a disco the kids will have fun either way. Make it a pizza party for an easy catering option or the buffet idea could work well too.

Whole of school assembly – This is a great opportunity for the whole school to say good bye and depending on the size of your school, you can have all the kids line up and form a tunnel for the graduates to walk through. This makes them feel really special and quite symbolic too.

All in all, there are many ways to bid a fond farewell to those leaving your school community. Some do gifts, some do events and some do both but it’s not important how you choose to say goodbye, the important thing is to thank the students and family for being part of your community and for all they have contributed during their time with you. It can be an emotional time for the kids AND the parents, so make sure you have some tissues handy!

Regina Underwood
Fundraising Whisperer Freelance Writer
Regina is a mother of three and a P&C President. She knows first hand the ups and downs of volunteering.

Originally published 3 November, 2017

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