On a Friday night in April, parents roamed the Erskine streets in search of their children.
But it was all in the name of fun — and a good cause.
Grade 9 students from Erskine School collected $666.75 during an all-night wake-a-thon that doubled as a breast-cancer fundraiser.
One of the events was a hide-and-seek game of sorts. Late at night, the students were “dropped off” at one end of town, and they tried to walk back to the school without being “caught” by parents on patrol.
“We get parents to volunteer, and they try to catch us,” said Grade 9 student Ally Marshall. “If we get caught … then we have to re-start.
“(Other students) said it’s pretty hard. We’ve just got to find places where they’re not going to find us.”
The Grade 9 class not only knows the best shortcuts in Erskine. The six students showed they could plan and participate in a worthy fundraiser that brings a small class even closer together.
“It gets us closer and more comfortable with each other,” Marshall said. “We find out more stuff about each other. And you get to know what they’re good at, because we have a whole bunch of different activities planned.”
Their Grade 9 homeroom class was transformed into the wake-a-thon headquarters, complete with a comfy couch and bags of snack foods. The students had the school to themselves overnight, and they used the gym for recreational time.
The Grade 9 wake-a-thon has become a tradition at Erskine School during the past decade. Each year, the Grade 9 students pick a charity to support.
“We chose breast cancer,” said Grade 9 student Brooklyn Peterson. “It was personal to one of the boys in our class. That’s why we chose it.
“We stay up all night and we go out and get donations. We just do it for fun, and since it’s our last year here, we try to make it the best it can be.”
While the students have varied interests, such as sports and dance or none of those, they share a common goal in the all-inclusive wake-a-thon.
“And because it’s inclusive, they accept each other very well,” said principal Debra Spiller. “They work with each other and they support each other. So when they go off to the bigger and better world, they’ve got those skills with them — citizenship. This is part of our leadership program, as well.
“These are our leaders. And in Grade 6, they were good leaders. They planned a bike rodeo in Grade 6. It doesn’t seem to matter the number, but this group is very cohesive.”
The group exceeded its fundraising goal of about $500 by more than $150.
“It was really helpful to look online, too, because we looked it up online to learn about fundraising and stuff like that,” Peterson said.
One of the popular games was called “Bigger and Better,” through which the students began with small items, such as juice boxes and toothpicks, and traded up for goods of greater value.
“I think it is totally rewarding that these kids pull together for a common bond to do something for other people,” said Spiller, who also camped at the school overnight. “It’s that community service idea. They work all year for this. We started wake-a-thon probably eight years ago, and every year it has become a ritual for the Grade 9s. They choose their own charity and work toward it.
“Our youth are very in tune with things. We think they’re all technology minded. But they’ve got the big picture, as well — they know what matters. They have that compassion. They care and feel for each other.”
Along with Marshall and Peterson, the Grade 9 class includes Shane Bernard, Jordan Boehlke, Tim Gardner and Clayton Page.
The students sported symbolic pink tuques and handed out pink lapel-ribbons to people who contributed to their cancer-research fundraiser.