By Steve Guntli
“Senior skip day,” the loosely-organized, unofficial holiday in which outgoing seniors take a day off school near the end of the year, has been an open secret in high schools across the country for decades. Some Blaine High School seniors want to turn the tradition into a lasting legacy.
Senior class president Adam McShane is trying to make “Senior Day 2015” an established, concrete reality. McShane envisions the event as an all-inclusive day for seniors to reflect on their time in high school, and is turning to crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com to raise money for the event.
“It’s always been kind of a high school tradition everywhere,” McShane said. “Last year we watched our seniors plan this really poorly. It was just scattered, everyone doing their own thing. We decided we wanted to invite everybody to hang out as a class and celebrate our accomplishments.”
Along with fellow student government members Carl DeBelen and Hannah Kiele, McShane set out to create a holiday that would be by students and for students. The three hope Senior Day will create a yearly tradition for seniors at Blaine High School.
The school district hosts a pre-graduation field trip for seniors each year, but McShane felt the trip wasn’t enough.
“The pre-grad trip maxes out at 75 students,” he said. “But we have 165 in the class. You have to be in good standing with the administration to go, so if you have any kind of detention record you have to stay behind. We wanted something that would include everyone and would be free to attend.”
Senior Day will take place at Bloedel-Donovan Park in Bellingham on Thursday, May 21. McShane said he has lined up five barbeques and enlisted some parents willing to shuttle students to the park.
McShane set a goal of $1,500 on the GoFundMe account. The money will go towards printing T-shirts for the students and providing food and drinks.
“We want to order shirts for everyone from Cauliflower, which is [former Blaine wrestling coach] Craig Foster’s company,” McShane said. “That will cost about $1,300. The rest of the money will go toward food for the barbeque. And in the very small chance we get an excess of funds, we’ve thought about donating it back to the school or creating a scholarship.”
McShane hopes to place the order with Cauliflower by the first week of May, but the fundraising process has been slow. So far, the group has only raised $175 of its $1,500 goal. McShane has also sent a letter to more than 20 businesses in the Blaine area hoping for some local sponsorship.
“We’ve had a very positive response,” he said. “Several have contributed as businesses, and a few others have donated as individuals. If we aren’t able to meet our fundraising goal, we’ll make sure to acknowledge them in some way.”
If the fundraising goal isn’t met in time, the group is prepared to alter their ideas.
“If we don’t raise enough money for food, we’re just going to ask students to bring stuff to the barbeque,” Kiele said. “We’re going to send out formal letters to the seniors explaining what’s happening and what we have planned.”
The general response from other seniors has been supportive, but dubious.
“The students are on board. Some people probably think we’re a little crazy to think we can pull this off,” McShane said.
DeBelen has received offers from students to help raise the funds however they can.
“We’ve had students approach us who are offering to make a video for the website, or to help out with the mailing campaign,” he said.
Kiele said she’s aware that skipping a day of school may carry consequences, but said the intentions behind the event are good.
“We just want to make sure it’s fun and safe,” she said. “Sometimes seniors will use skip day as an excuse to partake in illegal activities. We wanted to make sure we use this opportunity for something positive.”
The school administration could not be reached for comment. The usual punishment for truancy varies from after-school detention to attending Saturday school, depending on how much time is missed. Students who don’t appear at school on the day of a sporting event will not be allowed to participate, but no sporting events are scheduled for May 21.
For more information, visit gofundme.com/seniorday2015.