The seniors. The students you know the best. The ones you have poured endless amounts of time into, shared memories with, cried with, laughed with, and built amazing relationships with. As they graduate we all want to honor them as best we can, but how?
Around this time of year in the various youth ministry Facebook groups I am part of we start seeing this question over and over again. So, here are some ideas for honoring your graduating seniors…
1. A meal
If you have a few students a nice dinner at a restaurant would be awesome. But If you have a ton of seniors it may be one you get catered, or do at someone’s house. But either way, it is a special meal just for your graduating seniors where you can honor them and show them how much they mean to you.
2. Senior Sunday
Have a service dedicated to them; a graduation service within your youth ministry. Invite parents, do a slide show, have them run certain elements of the service, do their favorite things, share memories. Honor them with the service.
3. Graduate Only Event
Do a youth event where only your seniors are invited. It may be a night, or it may be an over night or weekend.
4. Senior Standouts
Just like the section in the year book where they name the “best smile”, “best hair”, “most athletic”, “best to bring home to the parents” and more. But do the youth ministry version! Base them on your students, “most likely to volunteer for every game”, “most likely to go on every mission trip”, “best chubby bunny player”, it is really fun! Make certificates, trophies, posters, or something to make them feel special.
5. Personalized Notes
Write notes to each of your seniors. Write them yourself or split them up between your leaders based on who knows them best. I still read the note my youth pastor gave me at graduation!
–Bibles – Depending on your budget and size of your group you could go either leather bound, or pocket size, personalized with their name, or blank. Lots of options here. I still have mine from when I graduated high school.
–Books -Devotional books, spiritual books, how to survive college books, theology books.
–College survival kit -Laundry baskets, rolls of quarters, gift cards, flash drives, ear plugs, ramen, board games, funny things, practical things, sentimental things, whatever!
–Throw blanket – Awesome if you can get it custom with your logo and Perfect for dorm rooms!
–Youth Swag – Special shirts, hats, socks, whatever you have but limited edition. Custom, special just for the graduates.
–Personalized gifts – Again, depending on your budget and the size of your group… get custom engraved key chains, jewelry, wood work, etc.
7. Have a follow up plan
This is not one that you can actually hand your seniors on the day you celebrate them. But it is one that they will appreciate in the future. Have a plan for following up with them after they are at school. Little gift cards a few times throughout the semester, care packages, home made cookies, or something to let them know that you still love them even though they are away at college.
Just a few suggestions for you to honor your graduating seniors. If you have something awesome that you have done or do please comment below so other youth workers can benefit from your awesomeness!