Make memories for your Key Club seniors

Julie Saetre | May 21, 2020


This year many Key Club seniors won’t get to walk across the stage to accept their high school diplomas in front of proud family and friends. But that doesn’t mean they have to give up recognizing this important milestone. In fact, it’s important that they do, says Heather Servaty-Seib, a professor in counseling psychology at Purdue University’s College of Education in West Lafayette, Indiana. Servaty-Seib researches loss and grief experiences in both death and non-death situations. 

“We don't have many rites of passage in our culture,” says Servaty-Seib. “And these graduations are really important ones. So how is it that recognition of the movement from one state of being to another can happen if it's not a graduation ceremony?” 

Kiwanians and Key Club advisors can play important roles, she suggests, by marking this passage in a way that grads will find personal and meaningful. In fact, because you know and have worked with these students, you can create celebrations that can be better customized to them than could a large, more generic event. 

“Ritual is only as helpful or useful as it is meaningful,” Servaty-Seib says. “In some ways, there might be opportunities for them to be more personal than would a large graduation ceremony that they have very little control over planning. They could create something that includes elements unique to them, the unique representation of their personal journey that a standard ceremony for all could never capture.” 

Use these suggestions as inspiration:

Create a congratulatory group video for your grads. Through the Tribute website, Key Club advisors and members of your sponsoring Kiwanis club can record and upload a personalized video message. Those videos then can be shared with your Key Club seniors. Messages can be general good wishes or centered around a theme: inspirational quotes, valuable words of advice or fondest memories of the past Key Club year. The Tribute service is currently free when using the code “yougotthis25” at checkout.

Hold a virtual party. Many Kiwanis clubs have turned to the Zoom website to hold meetings; you can do the same to host a celebration for your Key Club grads. Recognize their achievements in education and service and ask them to share what they plan to do after high school.

Send them something special. Partner with a local restaurant to deliver a celebratory pizza to each grad, order Key Club graduate merchandise for seniors or organize a snail-mail or digital “card shower” to share a personal note of thanks.

Plan a drive-by parade. This has become a popular way to safely recognize graduation. Coordinate a day and time for each member of your club and the Key Club advisors to drive by your grads’ homes. Honk vehicle horns, ask passengers to hold congratulatory signs and offer plenty of smiles and waves.

Place yard signs. Make or order signs to congratulate each senior and let others in the neighborhood know about the Key Clubbers’ service and graduation success.


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