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Zombie Night at Yangon International School

Graeme Anning, Kindergarten Teacher, 123 Campus Coordinator and New Teacher Onboarder, Yangon International School, Myanmar

Budgeting, fundraising, marketing, management, and promotion are components of Financial Literacy, a class that teaches twenty-first-century banking and money management at Yangon International School (YIS) in Myanmar. From August to October, high school students employ their learning in the culminating task: Zombie Night!


This student-led project based event works to augment the natural strengths of students, develop leadership, and put the lessons they learned in finance class into a real-world scenario.

Students are teamed into five groups: management, budget/finance, design, promotion, and fundraising. The class forms a business organization chart and students take the reigns planning the event.

Mr. Cole, a former financial analyst at Chase and Financial Literacy teacher, gives control of the project over to the students and acts solely as an advisor to the project. “I advise on decisions the students make and help guide the management team on how to run the event.”

The budget/finance team creates appropriate accounting journals and is in charge of money spent and earned. The promotion team creates a Facebook page, produces tickets, and spreads the word via print and social media to other schools.

The design team is in charge of the creative element ranging from poster advertisement layout, to how installations will be decorated on Zombie Night. They decide on an overall theme and guide the makeup and costume designers.

The fundraising team puts on a bake sale, sells tickets in advance, and works closely with the finance team to secure funds for overhead costs.

The element of running organizing the event like a business occasionally breeds conflict between students who have differences of opinions on how to move forward with various tasks. However, one of the strengths of Zombie Night being a student-led event is that they are required to sort out their differences and find common ground independently. This is a valuable skill that once developed is invaluable in the business world.

Mr. Cole explains: "real life applications are the new trend in Project Based Learning and Zombie Night is the culmination of all prior units of Management, Marketing, Budgeting, Fundraising, and Promotion. It takes the collaboration of every team to form a successful business to make the event work."

The development process for Zombie Night is a five-week unit. Students exercise and discover their leadership skills and develop their natural strengths in this project.

Before planning, the students are made aware that they will succeed together as a class, fail together as a class, and learn together as a class. This notion creates a climate where both success and failure are an acceptable outcome so long as the understanding that we can learn from both.

On the big day, students start preparing right after classes dismiss. The design team has already delegated the installation pieces for each floor. They have authored and produced a safety video to introduce incomers to how Zombie Night works and how to be safe.

Ticket holders arrive in the evening and are admitted to the school cafeteria where tables, candy, music, and a photo booth are set up for them as a waiting area. You may request to be in a group with your friends or join a random team. When your group is summoned, you are handed three bracelets and are led to the eighth floor by a hardhat-wearing student who begins introduces you to the game. At the top, you are required to watch the safety video, after which, you are led down to the seventh floor where the game begins. The object of the game is avoiding the zombies. If you are touched, you must relinquish one bracelet. Winners make it through all seven floors, back down the lobby without losing all of their bracelets. Mid-game, if you run out of bracelets, you may purchase them to continue.

It is the third year YIS has hosted Zombie Night and has woven itself into the annual Halloween celebration. Teams and individuals are assessed based on their contributions.

Mr. Cole explains, "We look back on prior years and ask the tough questions of what went right, what went wrong, and what can we do better? These questions move the team forward, and gets students thinking with a growth mindset."


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