Drawing from the Well

Chapter Six Water as Nourishment
Lesson 2 - Elements for a Community Celebration

Setting the Stage:

The Community Celebration has been the grand finale of the Drawing from the Well program. This is when all the elements of the year or the semester's work come into full view. This is a great time for students to feel the importance and impact of their work, for parents to be proud of their children's accomplishments, for teachers to fully evaluate the students' achievements, for administrators to recognize the value of place-based curriculum, and for the community (some of whom were interviewees) to be recognized, honored and welcomed into the school community. We have noticed how adults, who may not have had positive school experiences themselves, have found a new attitude towards learning as a result of this project. This is the chance for your students to take ownership of the event and their own learning.

Goals:
Planning and implementing the Community Celebration is a project in itself. In this lesson we outline the details that we have employed in sponsoring four community celebrations. Encourage students to develop their own ideas to make this event rewarding both on personal and societal terms. Here's an opportunity for students to experience the value of giving back to their community.

Objectives:

  • Students will be the planners, organizers and implementers of the celebration
  • Students will practice both being in charge of and taking direction from peers
  • Students will experience the response from authentic audiences and the rewards of setting goals and accomplishing them

NM State Standards: Language Arts Benchmark I-C

Materials and Supplies:

  • Access to a phone
  • Writing materials
  • Student projects and oral presentations
  • All the items for throwing a party -- such as music, food, tables, chairs.

Duration:
Some of the planning for this event needs to happen early in the school year to secure the date and place. Planning and follow-through of plans may take a few weeks.

Activities:

  1. Ideally, as some students may be finishing up the final projects, other students can begin to plan and make arrangements for the celebration. In the past we have been able to access funds for this event through our many partners. It is possible to have donations from school facilities and the generosity of families. However, know what you have to work with up front and make your plans accordingly.

    Here is a checklist of items to consider for the celebration: (Handout available)
    • Designate a space at the school or within the community for the celebration.
    • Put in a request for the use of this space designating time, custodial and security needs. Make sure your dates do not conflict with other events going on. Often, if the celebration is during the end of the school year there are many other events planned. Double check that there are no conflicts for the date and the space.
    • Plan a program for the event including music, introductions, student presentations, acknowledgements and speakers.
    • Determine the seating and table needs; also consider the layout of the room.
    • Often display tables, podiums, and a stage setting may be needed.
    • Arrange for a PA system, microphone(s) and microphone stands.
    • Decide upon a menu and, if there is money, contact the restaurant or caterers and make an order. If you are going to rely on pot luck, you may wish to ask certain students to bring either desserts, main courses, salads, or drinks. Be specific about who will bring serving implements, coffee makers, drinks, coolers and paper goods.
    • Although having everyone bring his/her own eating utensils would be ecologically desirable, the chances are you'll need to buy paper plates, bowls, napkins, plastic cutlery and cups.
    • Entertainment? Often we have invited the school Mariachi Band or another student music group. At other times we have employed musicians from the community. It's best to support local talent.
    • Design, print and send out or have on hand invitations and program guides for the event. This is a great opportunity for students who are artistically talented to shine.
    • Call all of the interviewees to encourage them to come. Often we have given flowers or candles to the participating interviewees, along with a certificate of acknowledgement.
    • Contact the press. This event makes great local news. Set up students to talk with reporters.
    • Guest speakers: It may be appropriate to ask your school superintendent, principal or school board member to speak about the value of this project.
    • Invite all administrators, school board members, state and local representatives.
    • Consider documenting this event with video, audio or photography. This may be useful for evaluations after the event.
    • Practice the student presentations in the actual space where they will be presenting
    • Remember to acknowledge on the program guide all contributors to the project.

Go over the checklist with your students and see if they have more to add. Eventually it will be necessary to coordinate schedules with other teachers when the time comes to set up and practice the student presentations.

Assessment:
Check or add to the group plan to keep track of student responsibilities.