Secret Pals: A Festive Staff Appreciation Project

Lexi RichardsonNews Notes

Hi, I’m Patricia Mathu, your WASC Region IV SHS President. I’m a junior in high school and I am so honored and excited to be serving the WASC this year! One of my favorite things about the WASC is the awesome platform we have to share stories and ideas across the state.

During the last week before winter break, some of my friends complain about how time feels to be moving so slowly and how they can’t wait to be freed of homework and classes with a week to do whatever they want. I, however, have never shared in these feelings. That is because the week before winter break is one of my favorite weeks of the year: Secret Pal Week.

Our student council organizes this staff appreciation project. Any student that wants to can sign up to be a “secret pal” for a teacher. We let seniors on the council choose a teacher first, then juniors on the council, and it continues like that until all members of the council have had the opportunity to sign up. After that, we open it up to the entire school to fill any remaining teachers.

Secret Pals give their teacher a small gift every day Monday through Thursday. Our student council encourages them to give gifts that are less than $5 or free. For example, I’ve gifted a bag of oranges with funny faces drawn on them, cookies I’ve baked, and candles my sister has made.

In addition to gifts, students write small clues on their gifts that will eventually reveal who they are by Thursday. To keep it a secret, you give your gift to friends, other people in the class, or even just random people walking through the hallway to maintain secrecy.

It is so fun to creep around the hallways, whisper commands for people to deliver gifts, try to come up with clues that could trip up the teachers, and find that gift that is perfect for your teacher.

But the best part of the week for me is definitely when it culminates on Friday in a staff breakfast. You reveal yourself to your teacher, give them a larger gift, and they give you one in return. We get donations of bagels, donuts, juice, coffee, and other items for the breakfast so our council ends up spending no money on it.

I’ve done it all three years I’ve been in high school so far and I love it more and more every time. It is such a good way to thank teachers that do so much for our schools. While our council does it before break to get in the holiday spirit, this is an event that is fairly easy to organize and could be executed any time of the year!

If you have any questions about WASC or Region IV, please feel free to contact the entire WASC Region IV Officers at region4@wasc.org (.) If you want to contact me directly about implementing Secret Pal Week with your council or any other staff appreciation ideas, I’d be happy to hear anything from WASC! You can e-mail me at patriciaannmathu@gmail.com . Lastly, I bet you have a story like this that would be great to feature on the WASC website! Share it with stateoffice@wasc.org ! We’re always looking for more content for News Notes to share with leaders across the state.

Cheers to a new year!