In order to make Walk-A-Thon (WAT) happen this year, unique approaches were made in hopes of maintaining its tradition and purpose. The Student Board members and administration have been working hard and have decided to continue the annual fundraiser despite the challenges. Together the school raised almost $70,000.
“WAT has always been important to Marian…in terms of the class and overall school spirit, as well as the sense of tradition that it fosters, and because it is a significant fundraiser that is completely student-run,” President Mary Higgins said. She wants students to know how important WAT is in that it generates money that goes directly toward tuition assistance.
Some students have expressed their concerns with Walk-A-Thon because of the heavy impact COVID has had on many people. According to the Network survey of 200, 61 percent of students that responded think WAT should have been moved to the spring in hopes that the effects of COVID would be decreased.
Senior Grace Clark supports this idea due to current restrictions such as social distancing. “As beneficial as social distancing can be, it will be difficult to monitor students during the WAT celebration and may take away from the fun and celebration of the tradition,” Clark said.
She feels the money we raise should go towards first responders and organizations working to help with COVID relief instead of using it for Marian tuition. “We need to recognize that the money we are collecting should be put towards something more beneficial than just spending it on our school,” Clark said. She had hoped that the number of COVID cases would be decreased by the spring in order to hold a typical WAT and celebrate the tradition like previous years.
Mrs. Higgins acknowledges this concern as a fair statement, but does not characterize WAT as spending money on Marian. Rather, it provides tuition assistance to students who otherwise would not be able to attend Marian. “It is a commitment to help as many individual students and their families who just simply would not be here without such financial help,” Higgins said.
Another concern for some students is the mandatory donation of $40. “With the current state of the economy during the pandemic, and the potential for student’s parents to not even have jobs at this point, it is not the wisest time to ask for money,” sophomore Claire Bentley said. As a class officer, she asked businesses to partner with Marian for restaurant nights, but many were not in the financial spot to do so.
Bentley, along with 65 percent of students in the survey, were uncomfortable asking businesses, family and friends for donations when jobs have been lost and they worried that donors wouldn’t understand why Marian is seeking money while knowing that it may not be easy for some people to write a check at this time.
The students who wanted to continue with WAT at this time felt it was important to preserve the tradition as long as there were precautions. “I think that WAT should still take place, because it’s a Marian tradition, and the fact that we already lost [2020’s] Field Day has left a big impact on students,” junior Sydney Schroeder said. She believed postponing WAT to the spring would interfere with other Marian traditions, and students need something to look forward to now. Slightly more than 35 percent of survey respondents thought it was okay to have WAT at this time, while 25 percent didn’t have an opinion as to when it was.
“I think it’s important we have WAT at this time because it shows how strong our community is for staying together, and it shows that no matter what, we stay united,” Schroeder said.
Despite the controversy of Walk-A-Thon this year, the administration and Student Board members thought it was important to maintain the tradition and raise money for tuition assistance. Although the school goal wasn’t met, the administration has decided to allow students still get a free day in honor of their hard work in raising money during a pandemic.