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Best Practices: Creating an Induction Celebration

For some chapters, the induction ceremony is the only Phi Theta Kappa-related event that many of its members will ever attend. If this is your only chance to interact with such members, how can you communicate the myriad benefits of membership and encourage involvement while still keeping the honor that comes with the induction?

Members of the Alpha Phi Kappa Chapter

The Alpha Phi Kappa Chapter at Bluegrass Community & Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky, has the answer - and it involves a lot of "Razzle and Dazzle."

"Basically, we incorporated joy and excitement into every single element of our program," advisor Cindy Baker said. "I know it sounds so simple, but it made all the difference in the world."

The chapter's first Razzle Dazzle Induction took place in spring 2014. The goal of the reimagined induction ceremony was to engage the new members' families - especially their parents - in chapter development and opportunities so they would encourage their children to be active members. To accomplish this, the chapter created an atmosphere more conducive to fellowship.

The location was the first thing to change. Rather than holding the ceremony in an auditorium followed by a small standing reception in the lobby, the chapter reserved a large conference room and arranged tables throughout. This allowed new members to sit with their families during the ceremony, and it encouraged them to stay for the reception because they could actually sit and enjoy the food.

And as new members lingered in the reception, there was more time for chapter officers and other members to reach out to them about Society initiatives and programs.

"The point is to engage more active members," Baker said. "It's more of a celebration, and it worked. I can't believe we didn't think of it before."

The tables were topped with balloons and other colorful decorations to encourage the celebratory atmosphere. Music by the Beach Boys filled the room and helped attendees shake the unseasonably cold weather outside. Families were given pompoms to use to cheer on their students as they were called up for induction.

Nine action tables were set up around the venue focusing on programs like Honors in Action, CollegeFish.org and Scholarships; fundraisers for the chapter; and regional and international conferences. Attendees were given a road map to guide them easily from one table to the next. This gave new members and their families an easy look at the various programs and opportunities available. A drawing was held at each table for a prize donated from a local business, which helped draw interest to the tables.

Current chapter members were stationed at each table. They welcomed the inductees and their families, and offered them "Fellowship Snacks" like hot chocolate. Having chapter members participate in such active ways encouraged them to interact with the new members.

"Even chapter leaders can be hesitant to interact with people they've never met," Baker said. "This was organized to give them something to talk about."

A video showing the chapter in action and outlining awards it has won opened the ceremony. Guest speakers kept their presentations short and peppy - the overall tone was representative of a "pep rally for the smart kids," she said.

"Being invited into Phi Theta Kappa is such a happy moment for a student," Baker said. "Our chapter had no hesitation at all in making this change. We were all very excited."

Kentucky Regional Coordinator Margo Hamm said the induction ceremony was the best one she's ever attended. She was so impressed that she asked the chapter to share planning tips at the regional convention.

"Moving from a more serious approach to a fun celebration seemed to appeal to the new members and engaged both the students and their guests in the ceremony," she said.

The Alpha Phi Kappa Chapter will be holding its second Razzle Dazzle Induction in October, themed "Under the Big Top."

Planning an induction ceremony? Find tools and resources here.



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