March 16th is the 1 year anniversary of the day that my school district decided to go 100% Distance Learning last year due to the COVID Pandemic. Last year this was a Monday and I know this because I am the Regional Coordinator for National History Day Friday March 13th was our regional competition. It was the last thing our district did before going on Lockdown. As I was planning this year’s 100% Virtual competition I kept tearing up remembering everything that happened over the last year and began thinking that students were having the same emotional reactions every day. I asked my Principal if we could have something like a memorial service on the anniversary. She agreed and I began talking with some people to organize an event. Thank goodness I work with some great people because we have developed an amazing activity to commemorate the anniversary while also using Trauma Informed Practices.

The event below was the product of my amazing colleagues – Curriculum Coordinator Martina McKoy (@mckoyhcs), our school counselor Christina Gibney, Social Studies Chair Samantha DeCerbo, my Principal Demetrius Williams, and my wife Amanda Powley. After discussing the idea with Ms. McKoy she discussed Trauma Informed Practices. I know this as a buzzword but little more so we went to Ms. Gibney who revolutionized this concept. She suggested we build this not as a memorial of what we have lost but as a commemoration of what we have learned about ourselves and our resilience. We brainstormed some ideas and then took them to Ms. DeCerbo who teaches a Leadership Development class. She allowed the Leadership Development students to develop the actual activity based on our overall concept. I am extremely thankful for these colleagues that took my seed of an idea and made it into a Trauma Informed Commemoration of a truly challenging year.

The Commemoration Activity

Part 1 – Memorial Wall

  1. We are creating a School Memorial Wall.
  2. Every student in our school takes an “AVID” class. During the week leading up to March 16th students in their AVID class will be given a paper rectangle.
  3. On there rectangle students will reflect on the past year and either write short statement or draw an illustration to answer the questions “How have we grown since March 16, 2020?” and/or “What have we learned about our resilience since March 16, 2020?”
    1. The students have a choice on how to express their reflection and on what they say

Part 2 – Community Chain

  1. Students will have the option of taking longer strips of paper in their AVID Class.
  2. On each strip of paper they can write a “Thank You” to someone that has helped them during the Pandemic.
    1. This could be a 1st Responder, Medical Person, Front-line Worker, Family Member, or someone else that has helped them
    2. Again, this is optional.
  3. The strips of paper will then be linked together to show the strength and courage of our community.

Planning this activity has allowed me to work through some complicated feelings myself. I hope that it helps the students process this information as well. As pictures are put on the wall I hope to share those in my next post.