An exciting assembly sets the tone for your Math-A-Thon

Just as the first page of a novel must grab a reader's attention, your Math-A-Thon kickoff assembly must grab the attention of your students to make them interested in helping our patients. Below are several suggestions that have achieved successful results:

Divide, Divide, Divide – Because of the size of the student body at most schools, many coordinators find it necessary to hold two or more assemblies. Even if you may not have to conduct two assemblies, please consider dividing your students based on their age and grade level. Younger students respond to an exciting atmosphere. They also respond to the video that arrives in your kit. Older students will react more positively to someone who simply explains how their participation can help a child.

Give Them a Visual – Students need to know that their work has a direct effect on the lives of our patients. Have all of the students in the assembly stand. Tell them that they are all St. Jude patients in the year 1962 (the year the hospital opened) and that they have acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the  most common form of pediatric cancer. Have approximately four students sit. Explain that in 1962 only four percent of children with ALL survived and that the children who are sitting would have been healed at St. Jude. Then have half of the remaining children sit. Tell them that in 1970, 50 percent of all children with ALL survived. Have two thirds of the remaining children sit and explain that today more than 80 percent of children with ALL survive because of the research done at St. Jude. Have everyone sit. Explain that all of these advances initiated at St. Jude were made possible by people who made donations. Tell them that Math-A-Thon is how they can make a difference and help save lives.

Make it Personal – In addition to the assembly, have teachers from each grade take a little bit of time out of their day to talk to their students about the Math-A-Thon program. If someone in your school has a personal story they want to share, let them. A personal story will have more of an impact on your students than a video or assembly. Also, encourage your principal to participate in the assembly. His or her presence will give the event importance in the eyes of the students.

With these suggestions and your own creativity and enthusiasm, you can make your Math-A-Thon kickoff event a special time in your school and something your students will look forward to each year. 


February 2004