Motivation, a tricky thing: How students stay motivated during Walk-A-Thon

By J1 Reporter Callie Cavanaugh

“Good morning, Marian! We have quite a few Walk-A-Thon fundraisers tonight…” Is a message that Marian students have become accustomed to hearing homeroom after homeroom, September after September, and quite frankly have begun to ignore. So the question is, if repeated reminders are not doing the trick, what ways ARE most effective in motivating girls to go out and collect that money? 

There is no single answer to this question, because Walk-A-Thon (WAT), being the all-encompassing fundraiser that it is, depends on the participation of the entire Marian student body. The tactics that may be effective in motivating an enthusiastic new freshman may not have the same effect on a senior who is a seasoned expert on the subject with three years of experience.

The halls of Marian are filled with posters, inboxes are overflowing with enthusiastic student reminders, and daily announcements from administrators  are all attempting to build up the Walk-A-Thon hype— but these methods could have different results. Some are incentivizing while others can simply become overwhelming. Student government leaders and homeroom teachers alike will agree; motivation is a tricky thing and there are countless ways to go about it. 

Starting at the source, one of the leaders behind Walk-A-Thon, Student Board Co-Moderator Ms. Jessica Abel, said that the key to keeping motivation  is class unity. Though she finds the competitions between each homeroom effective, Abel is a firm believer in the idea that having an overall sense of class unity and consistent goal for everybody is what will truly motivate a class to become a winning one. 

Abel couldn’t help but add that Field Day and color choice always seem to be the best incentive that sticks around year after year— emphasizing the point that the results of Walk-A-Thon have an effect on the entire school year. 

When all is said and done, however, the administration can only influence Walk-A-Thon motivation so much: it is a student-led fundraiser after all. What motivates a student to contribute to her class’ WAT goal changes as she progresses through her Marian career. 

Many freshmen come into Marian not having a clue about Walk-A-Thon and are suddenly expected to compete with experienced upperclassmen. Freshman Audrey Ehlers is one of many Class of 2023 newcomers that shared this feeling of cluelessness. “I thought it was kind of confusing because we weren’t really told super specific information like where the money goes or what the most efficient way to raise money is,” Ehlers explained. “It was also hard without class officers encouraging and holding us accountable.” 

Though the freshmen may have initially felt a little lost, they still had an overall positive first Walk-A-Thon experience. “The last week was really fun with how competitive it got,” Ehlers said. “The walk itself was actually really fun and helped our grade bond!”

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Freshmen celebrate and bond at the the colorful dance party after completing their first Walk-A-Thon on Sept. 27.

Ehlers, like many freshmen, was excited to be a contributing member of the Marian community and said that what ended up motivating her the most in the end was the big-picture idea of not letting her new classmates down, “I didn’t want to be the only person in my homeroom or even grade that was a cause of potentially not reaching our goal.” Walk-A-Thon is one of the first experiences that unifies the freshman class and helps them learn the importance of coming together for a goal larger than themselves. 

Does what motivates someone to bring in money change after they have a few more Walk-A-Thons under their belt? According to senior Arij Khan, it most definitely does. “I was motivated to bring in money for my class because since it’s our last Walk-A-Thon, I really wanted to win!” Khan’s enthusiasm was reflected by her entire class as they pulled off one final WAT victory! The class of 2020 entered this WAT with one victory already behind them, as they took the number one spot in WAT 2018 as well. Due to this, defending their number one spot also proved to be a motivating factor for the senior class. 

A senior already possesses the sense of class unity that Walk-A-Thon instills in the freshmen; to them it is no longer just about bonding, their eyes are on the prize… and they got it! No senioritis in sight for the class of 2020, the idea of attaining that last victory was motivation enough.

For decades, Walk-A-Thon has consistently started off each brand-new Marian school year with a bang. Though different students are motivated in different ways, it nonetheless bonds together freshmen, keeps seniors excited, and above all, forges a sense of class unity and student engagement that will last throughout the school year. 

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