As a rising senior here at BRHS, I have just gone through the process of planning prom and recently found out, along with over 50% of the surveyed students, that the estimated cost of graduation and Project Graduation is around $26,000 (class of 2022 spending) and must be entirely funded by students. We as a class found this jarring along with 75% of the surveyed BRHS students and I want to relieve this pressure off of future students.
The $26,000 breakdown: for graduation “[t]he target for raising money for this year's class was $10,000. This includes …caps and gowns, banners [around the circle], tents and risers, chair rental, diplomas, etc.,” and this year’s class target for Project Graduation was approximately $16,000 including class apparel. This overall cost depends on what the future classes decide to do (location, activities, yes or no on banners, etc.) said Mr. Allan Crocker, BRHS dean of students.
One BRHS teacher said that they believe students are not overwhelmed by this cost and the overall solution to this large cost is to not participate in Project Graduation and not put up the beloved banners around the roundabout to save money. They did concede that they were unaware of the extent to which students, rather than donors, are paying for these costs including the banners and how COVID has impacted recent classes. Many people also believe that because it has always been this way that we and future graduating classes should also raise all of the money.
However, even our Principal Tricia Campbell recognizes the significance of these costs and the mental health toll this fundraising has on the core group of a few students in every grade that tend to do 90% of the work. This reality was echoed by teachers Mark Gorey and Kristen Hanley, parents Lynn Blake and Sarah Clark, and junior class treasurer Grace Campbell. Our principal and our dean of students are willing to advocate for the school board to budget the basic costs of graduation for this reason.
At Lake Region High School in Naples (a BRHS teacher’s former employer), they have their students fundraise and pay solely for prom and senior activities. Meanwhile, the school pays for the graduation (excluding individuals’ caps and gowns) and parents along with other community members pay for Project Graduation to celebrate and reward the students.
My solution to this pressing issue would be to have students pay for Project Graduation and any upgrades or special requests for graduation while the school budgets for the standard cost of graduation, preferably including the new banners. This compromise would still teach us how to raise and respect money, as BRHS teacher Gray Ferris advocates, while not making us too stressed with the load we already carry. This compromise would be highly beneficial considering that those few students who constantly participate in fundraising activities are often those taking the hardest classes and striving to do their best academically.
As a community, we need to convince the school board to budget the essential costs (such as tents, speakers, risers, gowns, etc.) to celebrate us and take the burden off of our hard-working students.