PORTLAND — Last year, juniors at Casco Bay High School travelled to West Virginia during spring break to work on a Habitat for Humanities project.
Some students described last year’s Junior Journey as a transformative experience.
This year, students are planning to travel to Biloxi, Miss., April 13-18 to assist Habitat for Humanity’s ongoing relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.
But, so far, their fundraising efforts have fallen short. CBHS juniors have to raise an additional $3,000 to meet their $30,000 goal.
CBHS Principal Derek Pierce said student fundraising efforts have ranged from corporate presentations to baby-sitting to bottle drives. Students were also asked to raise an additional $100 from friends and family, but not parents.
“The grim economy has made fundraising more challenging,” Pierce said, “even for such a worthy cause.”
Last year’s trip to West Virginia was the first Junior Journey offered at Casco Bay High School, one of the newest school’s in the state and one of the few public schools offering adventure-based learning. The Junior Journey is considered a way for students to apply their learning to a real-life situation that will have a lasting impact.
Faculty coordinator David Burke said Junior Journey is a unique way to educate kids, but is often misunderstood by the public as something that is simply “a nice thing to do.” The trip is fundamental to CBHS student education and creating future citizens, he said.
“If you want students to be good citizens, you need to create experiences that train their hearts and minds for that,” Burke said. “If you want citizens who have a sense of community, and a sense of responsibility to the place they live, they need to practice that.”
Pierce said this year’s event is considerably more expensive than last year’s because the students bought airline tickets rather than chartering a bus. Last year’s journey cost only $15,000.
Pierce said students, and teachers, are getting creative to raise the extra money. Two teachers have volunteered to have “extreme makeovers,” which will be executed by the winners of a raffle.
Also, an all-expense-paid Junior Journey trip is being raffled off; raffle tickets cost $20 and no more than 50 will be sold.
Student Coordinator Katie Cole said she was initially discouraged by the tepid pace of fundraising, not only for the lack of donations, but also the lack of student involvement at events. That all changed around last Christmas, however, thanks to a partnership with the Clynk bottle redemption service.
“We have gotten very lucky in the past few months and I am very confident we will be just fine,” Cole said. “If you had asked me earlier this year, I wouldn’t have said the same thing at all.”
Pierce said the airline tickets have already been purchased, so CBHS juniors will go on the trip regardless of whether their fundraising succeeds. However, the students will have pay back whatever they must borrow from other school fundraising activities.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.