Recently, much publicity surrounded the National Signing Day hoopla of outstanding high school football standouts and the scholarships they are receiving for their athletic accomplishments.
Coverage of the country’s elite high school athletes has begun to receive national coverage by ESPN and others. We are pleased to see the great publicity for these athletes and their athletic programs, but we do hope that local and regional outlets consider another critical aspect of a high school student’s accomplishments.
Create a National Academic Signing Day
We think it is time for a National Academic Signing Day. Years ago, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett urged local leaders to create May Madness Day when seniors announce their post-high school plans for college and career. We think it’s a good idea because superintendents, board members, principals, and teachers always ask, “Where’s the good news about our schools?” Well, each year we have an opportunity to do something about it.
But we need to be proactive to make it happen.
Consider taking these steps to help prove that your local schools are preparing students for their future:
- Create a special event in your school district or school to gather all students who are moving on to a next step that we can all be proud of. In other words, bring in those going to college, enlisting in our armed forces, taking special training for advancing technical and occupational skills, etc.
- Invite the media but also make sure you capture the day for your own websites, listservs, newsletters, and social media. It is a day to celebrate accomplishment and your parents and community need to see the pride in your students’ faces.
- Have each student actually sign a letter of intent for their college or desired next step. Graphically embellish each signature into a poster or banner for your school or school district.
- Invite dignitaries to the event and capture their responses to this day of achievement.
- Consider having the students wearing hats, shirts, or memorabilia of their next step on the academic ladder. Some colleges may donate materials for this type of activity because they will see it as a recruiting opportunity for their schools.
- Consider video recording the event and then edit it to make a presentation about your school system and perhaps your individual schools. Show the video at the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Realtor meetings, and other similar settings.
Take a Golden Opportunity to Create a Positive Buzz
The list of opportunities is only limited by the creativity, time, and budget that you can allocate for this project. It is a golden opportunity to create a buzz about the accomplishments of your students, staff, and school system. You can create your own version of something called May Madness at a time when most school employees are weary from budget battles and the waning days of the entire school year.
Don’t let it slip for another year.
Start planning your version of National Academic Signing Day now.
Rich Bagin, APR
NSPRA Executive Director