Celebrating harmoniously

Our school celebrated the annual Harmony Day on Thursday, concluding with an afternoon reading picnic in shady nooks all over the playground.

The school hall is now decorated with about 1600 tiny paper dolls, four of each decorated by each person in our school. Looking around the school, orange-coloured reminders of Harmony Days past can also be found. There’s still a frieze of photos of orange-themed art, craft and cookery from about four years ago in the main foyer, and several sturdy banners with previous mottos for Harmony Day have also survived.

Our successes each year build on the ones before. Which made the comments of one country school particularly poignant. The organiser at that school, their teacher-librarian, encountered an air of apathy about the day, and/or its message, and I couldn’t help but respond:

“I know you’re feeling down,” I said, “but it’s time to celebrate all the successful elements of your Harmony Day. And there were plenty! Give certificates to those who got into the swing of it all, including staff. Do it at an assembly. Conspire with those teachers who supported you in 2009 to make next year bigger and brighter. Start your planning now. Rehearse for next year by promoting other theme days later this year. Keep photos and banners from this year’s Harmony Day to remind people next year of how many celebrated in 2009 – and record your increased numbers of participants each year in various newsletters/reports. Laminate the photo that appears in the local newspaper. Display copies everywhere.

“For the teachers who said they couldn’t be bothered… make them feel REALLY guilty by helping them with their next all-school responsibility. Do they organise athletic carnivals? Choir? Text book store rooms? Become invaluable to them. 😉

“Theme days often start small and grow in strength, year by year. The students will hold their teachers responsible for supporting the day. Make Harmony Day a tradition in your school. Refuse to allow people to be negative, and respond positively to every great thing that happened. Next year, supply a packet of orange crepe paper to every class who has people without coloured clothing, and tell them you hope that by Recess every student and teacher will have some orange on display. Did you realise there were little orange ribbons available through the official website?

Our Harmony Day committee, and sometimes a group of scripture teachers, also throw a free ‘orange food’ morning tea for the staff: melons, corn chips, Jaffas, orange-coloured dips and cheeses. That’s when you give each teacher their supply of orange crepe paper – and tell them to make some orange streamers and headbands before the reporter/photographer from the local press arrives!”