Fort Plain High School seniors will be heading out for a weekend of fun in Ocean City, MD, in mid-June, a trip made possible by years of fundraising that began when they were freshmen.
Beginning in ninth grade and despite time lost to the pandemic, members of the Class of 2023 fundraised enough to cover a good portion of the cost of their trip.
“Students earn one point for each $5 they fundraise or for each 30 minutes they work on class committees during their high school years, and those points can be used to reduce the cost of the senior trip,” said teacher and senior class advisor Kolbe Gray.
The senior class covered the costs of various activities thanks to their energy and determination during the past four years. “Fundraising is what made all of the events possible for us,” noted student council representative Andra Fuhs.
Class officers and student council representatives led many of the fundraising activities and are part of a core group of students and families supporting such efforts. “We park cars each year at the Fonda Fair from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” said senior class president Stephen Gray. “There are three shifts, but many of us work the whole time.”
“The Fonda Fair is our most fun fundraiser,” said class vice president Anthony Paradiso. “We can be kids but still do our job.”
The most lucrative fundraiser is the annual Krispy Kreme doughnut sale. “We earned more than $3,000,” Ethan Kilmartin, secretary of the senior class, noted.
The Class of 2023 also held chicken barbecues to fundraise. “The barbecue is held the Tuesday before Thanksgiving every year, and the weather is always cold,” Stephen said. “This year, we were able to stand in the bus garage, which was warmer.”
Selling potted mums was not only another successful and popular fundraiser, it was also the quickest: the senior class officers said they had the unloading and delivery tasks down to a science.
This year is the first since 2019 that the senior class is going on an overnight trip – the classes of 2022 and 2021 went on a day trip and the previous two years’ trips were canceled due to the pandemic – and the senior class officers are advocating to revive a good tradition. Ocean City was chosen as the destination following a vote by the entire senior class, who also considered Lake Placid and Camp Oswegatchie.
“As class officers, we meet as a group to look at destinations and select three for the entire class to vote on. Then we present the trip to the Board of Education for approval,” said council representative Vivian Nunez.
“For our trip, we didn’t want to go to the same places as other classes in the past; we wanted to make the trip our own,” said Rylee Herron, senior class treasurer. “We also wanted to go somewhere a little farther than we could go with our families.”
The students also decided to move their trip from the traditional May timeframe to mid-June to take advantage of warmer weather. Ocean City was attractive because of its distance from home – far enough away and yet a shorter bus ride from home than Virginia Beach, another designation they explored – as well as because of its beach, boardwalk and warm-weather activities such as sightseeing, go-karts, amusement park, and Assateague Island boat ride and tour.
In view the challenges presented by the pandemic, and in recognition of the hard work of the Class of 2023 despite school closures, the Board of Education stepped in to cover the cost of the bus transportation for the trip, helping to keep the cost within reach of the student body.
Fitting fundraising and class activities into a busy schedule can be a challenge, yet when asked what advice they would give younger students, the dsenior class members were both enthusiastic and encouraging.
“Be active in your class,” Anthony said. “Get involved and make the most of your high school years. You can fundraise and make your senior year be what you want it to be.”
“Learn how to make the not-so-fun things fun,” Vivian said, “like sorting doughnuts or standing out in the heat, sun, rain or cold.”
“Make sure you sell and advocate for your class,” Andra said. “You are limited on fundraising so you want to take advantage of the good ones and sell the most you can to build up your opportunities.
“And you try to build up a class that strives and endures for the end goal. I feel that our class always wanted this extravagant senior trip, different than others, and through always picturing the end goal as our motivation we made it happen.”
In the photo above, from left: Student Council Representative Vivian Nunez, Class Treasurer Rylee Herron, Class Secretary Ethan Kilmartin, Class Vice President Anthony Paradiso, Class President Stephen Gray and Student Council Representative Andra Fuhs.