Halfway through the 2013/14 school year, the grad committee at Whistler Secondary School was well short of its fundraising goals.
"We had an emergency meeting in February because we had at that point only raised about $11,000," said Stephanie Reesor, chair of the grad committee.
"The treasurer and I had a little panic attack one night, and she said, 'If we're going at this rate, we're not going to have enough for anything!'"
But the emergency meeting — held to "inspire" the students — served its purpose, and by the end of the school year the graduating class had pulled in about $30,000.
The money covered the cost of the grad ceremonies and then some.
When it was all said and done the class had $12,500 left over, which they decided to use to help other youth in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"Lauren Doak, one of my classmates, first came up with the initial idea of creating a scholarship for someone in our school district in financial need," 2014 graduate Jenya Nordin said in an email.
The original idea was to give out one $1,000 scholarship at the end of the year.
But when fundraising far exceeded expectations, that idea grew into something much bigger.
Of the $12,500 left over, the committee used $10,000 to set up a scholarship fund for students in the corridor.
"Our grad class was able to raise enough money to continue giving out the Student-to-Student Scholarship for the next 5-10 years depending on how many are given out each year," Nordin said.
The scholarships will be awarded based on need rather than marks, Reesor said.
"It's really unique, because a lot of scholarships are based on marks," she said.
"And so for these students it was really important that this be based more on need and the desire to go to school."
The other $2,500 was donated to Zero Ceiling to help underprivileged youth spend time in Whistler snowboarding.
To raise the money, the graduating class held bottle drives and bake sales, silent auctions and karaoke nights.
They sold chocolates, poinsettias and firewood, and held a fashion show showcasing products from local businesses.
"I'm really proud of these kids," Reesor said. "They wanted to give back and they all worked so hard to do it."
The hope is that future graduating classes will continue to add to the scholarship fund, leaving a lasting legacy for future students in the corridor.
"When we started, out it was a great feeling to know that we were going to help one person," Nordin said. "We are now going to be able to help so many more people, and that's even better."
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