A smoothly conducted awards program speaks volumes about a school, both from the awards which are given and the manner in which the ceremony is conducted. With a little planning, it is really not that difficult to come up with an impressive program.
How to Plan a School Awards Assembly
Begin by securing the location, making sure it will be available at the time and date you have chosen. Also make sure that support personnel (like someone who will coordinate the sound) are also available.
Clear the date and time with administration, counseling staff, faculty, and any other adults affected by the event. Do this in writing or by e-mail, requesting acknowledgements from everyone. There is nothing more likely to damper plans than someone who has made other plans for that time slot.
Notify parents. Whether your school traditionally takes care of this kind of communication through e-mails, newsletters, handouts sent home with students, or other methods, it is vital that parents have been made aware of the event.
Ask a music teacher, either choir, band, or orchestra, it he or she would be willing to provide a couple of musical numbers. Decide on the length of these together (probably not more than 3-4 minutes each).
Decide who will serve as the master or mistress of ceremonies. Sit down and write out the order of the program together. List who will be giving each award and what the award is for. Make sure the award givers all have copies of the program.
Set the length of the program. It should be proportional to the age of the students. An hour program is as long as you would want a ceremony for fifth graders to last; even high school students will begin wilting after two hours.
Find an appropriate guest speaker. For an elementary school, that speaker might be anyone from a previous student who is a new high school graduate to a local author of children’s books or stories. For older students, a previous student who is a new college graduate would be appropriate or perhaps a local businessman or athlete. Ask the speaker to prepare remarks ten to fifteen minutes in length.
Place one musical number near the beginning of the program, one just before the last presentation, the guest speaker 3/4 of the way through the program, and a “surprise” in the middle. That surprise might be a short video or slide presentation featuring students or perhaps an “appreciation of the teachers” given by several students.
Print up programs no longer than one sheet of paper in length. Arrange to have students distribute these as audience members arrive.
Make sure the master or mistress of ceremonies thanks everyone for coming and makes it clear the event is over.
Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.