Community spirit and participation

Helsinki's general upper secondary schools have traditions that add their own touch to the schools’ operations and the school year. Student bodies plays a key role in organising various events, theme days and projects.
Photo: Maija Astikainen

At the start of the school year,  general upper secondary schools organise welcome events for new students.

In February, an event called 'penkkarit' is held for students preparing to graduate. The event traditionally involves  students dressing up in fun costumes and driving around in lorries, throwing out candy to the crowds watching. With this tradition, students celebrate the end of their regular school attendance before taking the matriculation examination. Another traditional event held in February is a formal prom called vanhojenpäivä, or vanhojen tanssit. In this event, second-year students celebrate their new role as the oldest students at the school, as the third-years have just left school to study for their matriculation examination. 

At the end of the autumn term, students gather for a Christmas celebration, while the spring term ends with an end of the year celebration. Graduation ceremonies are held twice a year, at the end of spring and in December. During the ceremony, the new graduates receive their matriculation examination certificate and a white cap.

Students are important members of the school community

We listen to our students. We strengthen our students’ faith in their ability to develop their own skills. We appreciate each member of our school community just as they are. 

Each of our students is part of their general upper secondary school’s student body, which is represented by the student council. The student council’s mission is to make the students’ voices be heard better and help them develop activities at their school. As a student, you will be able to influence matters at your school and in the City of Helsinki in many ways. For example, you can become a member of the student council or a student tutor. Student tutors support and instruct new students at their general upper secondary school.  

The most important thing is that you believe in your ability to take action and that you propose changes in ways that are suitable for you. Your thoughts matter to us. 

How general upper secondary school students can take part in developing their school and the city: 

  1. Come and join the student council. 
  2. Participate in your school’s working groups, board or the parents’ committee. 
  3. Become a student tutor. 
  4. Set up your own group to advocate for something that is important to you. 
  5. Do not hesitate to contact a person who can promote the change you want. 
  6. Vote actively.