Zoomin' Out: A Guide to Digital Closing Ceremonies
By ISJL Education Fellow Isaac Gamoran
It’s mid-May and time to celebrate the last day of religious school! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining ever so brightly. Usually, the synagogue would be bursting with activity as the whole community offers an engaging end-of-year event.
However, this year that is not the case.
The building is quiet, families remain at home, and teachers have been navigating virtual class time for over a month. The celebratory ceremony that everyone is so accustomed to simply cannot happen as planned. So, how are we supposed to celebrate the last day without physically being together?
Well, we have good news! There are still plenty of options to give students, teachers, and families a proper summer send-off. By now, most of us are probably familiar (if not sick of) Zoom. We get that. However, we also recognize the value and importance of this application as a tool to bring people together. Therefore, we wanted to give you some ideas and resources for using Zoom and other platforms to host a fun-filled final program this year. We hope that these ideas may just add that special spark to make the end of the year work for your community. Continue reading below for some superb strategies on hosting a virtual closing ceremony.
Virtual BBQ Potluck
Although we might not be able to enjoy a barbecue on the final day of religious school at synagogue, we can still organize a virtual lunch! With Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other virtual conferencing platforms, people can still eat together as a community. This experience can be even become a virtual potluck if each family shows off a prepared dish. Participants could take a picture of their meal, share recipes with the community, and even rate their food on a scale of 1-10 to note how each individual dish turned out!
On Zoom, callers can join into multiple conferences through the breakout rooms feature. This is the perfect tool for party planners to create makeshift “tables” for families to “sit at” and connect with a smaller group. An event might begin as one large “assembly” and then individual grades could split up into breakout rooms. That way, students could enjoy intentional time with their peers, parents could experience the ruach (spirit) of the school and connect to one another, and teachers could schmooze (talk) and appreciate having everyone together in “class” one more time.
Screensharing Class Creations
What projects did each class work on this school year? Was there an all-school collaborative assignment that students completed? Through Zoom’s screenshare feature, individuals can exhibit beautiful creations and presentations! During the final day of the calendar, teachers could take turns sharing their screens with congregational families to highlight students’ work. This could empower students and teachers alike and bring the larger community together to celebrate all that the school accomplished over the year.
We hope these techniques help ensure a celebratory final day of school. Let’s prove that being in community does not have to be dependent on being physically-present!