The past two weeks have seen the return of school from winter break, the reunion of students in my yearlong classes, the introduction of new students in my semester classes, and the bane of my existence; fundraising.
Something I never expected when I became a high school teacher is the amount of money I would be shuffling in and out of accounts from year to year. All of the extra-curriculars require a bit of extra support in order to enhance experiences.
Do you want a better camera for yearbook? Sell some candy. Want to take your basketball team to summer tournaments and minimize the cost for the kids? Host a free throw shoot-a-thon, or maybe even sell some frozen pizzas.
Those are just the big ticket fundraiser items. We can always use a little extra cash in our account for some fun things like banquets, so between my coaching and clubs over the years we have ghost written Valentine poetry for students, run blitz weeks for yearbook with a lot of silly games during lunch for a few bucks, and created media guides for our athletes during their season. I’ve always been on the lookout for that one big fundraiser that will bring in a lot of money with minimal time commitment, but it just doesn’t seem to be out there, so we continue to look for ways to make a few extra bucks along the way.
In the last week, I have been dealing with two big fundraisers. One of them was a spirit wear sale, which went through multiple iterations, and which has almost completely been finalized this week (There were a few missing items that we are dealing with). This fundraiser ended up making us a good amount of money, but went through an extra period of stress with misunderstood minimum orders, reorders, and distribution.
The second fundraiser has also been stressful, but also a source of great fun for me. Our social justice club is hosting a trivia night to help raise money for the students to go on the trip next summer. This was a major success for us last year, so we are hoping to replicate last year’s event, and potentially make it even better.
In order to make this event raise as much money as possible, our group of sponsors is doing all of the heavy lifting for the night, including writing all of the questions. Here is where fundraising finally started to get fun. I’m a big fan of trivia nights. I had never experienced them until I moved to the midwest, but now I jump at the opportunity to attend. These nights combine many of my loves in life; random trivia, competition, and smorgasbord style food. What’s not to like?
As I write the questions I have a lot of things to consider. Are my categories too difficult? If I think they are too difficult and I change some of the questions, did I make them too easy? Are the questions user friendly enough for both students and parents, since our event is open to all and seemed to thrive in that format last year? These are all questions that are probably much more intensive than what I should be spending my extra time thinking about, but I have been really excited about this question writing process anyway.
I was tasked with two categories with social justice theme. We are alternating rounds to include more of those questions this year in an attempt to make it a night where we not only raise money and have fun, but also educate the people about why we meet and go on our summer trip. I may have had some trepidation about becoming a teacher early in my career, but writing these questions makes me realize that I am in exactly the right field for my personality. I have learned so many new facts while writing these questions and feel as if my questions are challenging, while also engaging and thought provoking. Super nerdy, right?
I’m actually really excited to have connected so much with my task for this fundraiser, because while I hate having to work so hard to make extra money to support the students. I think I sometimes forget why I’m doing it when it gets so stressful. When we spend hours of our time in and out of class working on a fundraiser that we think will be amazing and it ends up barely covering our initial costs, it can be frustrating. When I was the yearbook adviser and felt like I was running a small business in my classroom, it added an extra layer to my job that I had not been fully prepared for.
However, I think working on this trivia night has helped me appreciate the rewards of the fundraising efforts we do, even through all the stress. I have a lot of really fantastic kids and I want the world for them, so if I need to spend some extra time out of my normal schedule to help enhance their educational experience, I’m more than happy to do it. Although I’ll probably still complain about it!