Creating the Senior Experience
I was brought to Kushner to create the Senior experience, to help give the senior year a different feel from the previous three years of high-school. My goal was to create an experience, which was both meaningful and fun, through programming that would enrich the students' school experience, and learning opportunities that would deepen the students appreciation for what makes them most unique, their Judaism. Below are some examples of the ways the Senior experience is unique.
To get the year started with the right tone, we kicked it off with a formal senior lunch. We had a plated, catered meal, with centerpieces of pictures of the students over their past 3 years. The head of school, and myself addressed the senior class with words of inspiration to get the year started. In addition, I presented the many new initiatives special for the seniors. We capped off the event with the seniors writing letters to themselves to open at graduation.
Corn Maze Trip
What do you do when you want a bunch of seniors who have been in school for their entire lives together to branch out and make new friends? Throw them in a corn maze! This trip was perfect. It gave the students a chance to be outside and socializing like normal during a COVID year. The students had a great time working together to get out of the maze, and were treated to a delicious lunch
College Application BBQ
To celebrate finishing college applications we had a delicious backyard BBQ. The BBQ gave the students a chance to reflect on their accomplishments while socializing with their friends. We had a special speaker, and capped off the night with a S'Mores kumzitz by the bonfire.
To make it a special Chanukah, I wanted to make sure to have something fun for the seniors each day. From Menorah Drip Tray Decorating to Extreme Dreidel, to RKYHS Live! and Ugly Chanukah Sweater contest, to Dreidel Archery and Donut Bar, to Minute to Win it, and the Great RAEce, it was surely a Chanukah to remember!
Extra Learning Opportunities
Students love food, and they love schmoozing, so why not combine them? Through different learning opportunities, I tried to give the students a chance to learn outside of the classroom, in a more relaxed way, and to allow the conversation to be driven by the students, whcih lead to very rich and deep conversations.
Drive-in Movie Experience
After many months of COVID school, I could tell the students simply needed a break, a fun night to unwind with their friends, hence the drive in movie. Prior to the movie, we had a chulent cookoff, a basketball tournament, karaoke, and s'mores, followed by dinner from Chickies. What a night!
Making Pesach Meaningful
In preparation of Pesach, I planned two events: Kiddush cup making, and a mock seder. At Kiddush cup making, the students painted clay cups and enjoyed a delicious lunch. The cups were fired in our kiln and were ready for pickup before Pesach to be used at the seder. In addition, we had a mock seder where we acted out each of the aspects of the seder with various props, hearing divrei torah from the students on the various aspects of the seder, and singing the various musical components of the seder. Everyone was definitely in the Pesach spirit!
Hakarat Hatov Scavenger Hunt
Many high school seniors finish the year and go on to their gap year or college experience without taking much time to reflect on their time in their school they spent four years, or the staff that made that experience so incredible. To help the students reflect on their experience and express the proper Hakarat Hatov, I opened the program with a powerful story on the impact of saying thank you, and then sent the students off to complete the hakarat hatov scavengar hunt. Throughout the hunt, the students were sending me their videos, giving me the opportunity to make a compilation of the videos, which we watched during a nice send off lunch for the seniors. It proved to be a very meaningful program for the students and the staff.
After an intense year, the students were itching for a trip, and Baruch Hashem we were able to provide it. The theme of the trip was "As We Go On", with various student speakers throughout the trip touching on that theme upon reflecting on their experience. The trip started in NYC, where we went to Beat the Bomb, Dave and Busters, the Beast and Mr. Broadway for dinner. We then went to Camp Moshava for two days, with white water rafting and Silent DJ and the famous senior kumzitz on day 2, and Liberty Heights on day 3. It was a perfect way to cap off an amazing year and high school experience together.