Since persuasive writing is something that we cover in fourth grade, I had all of my students write a persuasive letter to a "judge" providing reasons why he/she should be promoted to the fifth grade (this would work for other grade levels as well.) I told them that they would have two days to work on this during their writing time and that a judge would be coming to visit the classroom to hear their case. This made all of them very excited and they wanted to try their best on their letters so that the judge would be impressed.
When the day arrived, my coworker and I dressed up as judges (black graduation gown) and did this as a combined class activity. The students took turns reading their cases to us and absolutely loved it. We made them provide proof and reasons why they are ready to move to fifth grade. It was a total success!
At the end of hearing their proof, we would use a gavel and say "promoted to fifth grade" and we gave the students a Little Debbie Swiss Cake with a ribbon tied around it to look like a diploma.
You can find the template for this FREEBIE here at my TpT store to use next year!
Enjoy your summer!