Class officers leave lasting senior gift

When four newly-elected class officers entered Duxbury High School in 2009, they knew they had to get right to work on fundraising, but had no idea how much their ambition would pay off.

Senior class officers Matt Griffin, Erin Gallagher, Jillian Sylvester and Malcolm Edgar graduated on Saturday after four years of hard work and commitment to community service. As they prepared to receive their diplomas and throw their caps, they held onto a secret: their senior class gift.

Within the first two weeks of freshman year, the class officers had gotten the ball rolling on fundraisers, selling glow sticks and lanyards at football games. They held a car wash on the morning of prom for students who were bringing their cars to prom and found a lucrative business in car washing during sports events.

“We were fundraising in the first week of school and everyone was like ‘what are you doing? Who are these people?’” Edgar said.

By the end of their sophomore year, the class officers had raised enough money for their senior class gift.

“We had more money than the graduating class had at that point,” Gallagher said.

Looking forward to events they knew they would have to pay for, like Prom and the Senior Cookout, the four officers budgeted their funds and began looking for ways to have their fellow classmates become more involved in the community. During their freshman year, they started a class council, which was run by the four officers and welcomed any classmates to join.

"Having the council, we were able to have so many more people participate in service projects," Griffin said. 

With a heavy focus on community involvement and service, the officers organized at least one service project a month, more often doing community service every weekend for the entire four years at the high school.

When prom came around and raised a significant amount for the class, the officers knew they would have to give a gift that would both represent the hard work they put into fundraising and inspire others to continue helping out around the community.

In the middle of their junior year, the officers met with their class advisor to brainstorm gift ideas. Benches and trees, both common gifts, were dismissed because of the new school construction. Because they had plenty of time to work with, the officers decided to look into creating a scholarship.

“We got in touch with the Partridge Fund and within 30 minutes they got back to us,” Griffin said. “That afternoon we had a conference call and got the ball rolling.”

In order to start a scholarship fund, the officers needed $5,000. After paying for the various events for the senior class, they were left with $4,000. Within minutes, the Partridge Fund responded, saying they would donate the extra $1,000 to the scholarship.

Edgar announced the scholarship at graduation. The $500 scholarship will be given to one senior each year based on their leadership and community service.

“We want to see that they have dedicated themselves to at least one community service project, like going to the food pantry multiple times or participated in multiple mission trips,” Griffin said. “We don’t want someone who just did community service one time.”

Gallagher said in order to apply for a Partridge Fund scholarship, students must be in the top 20 percent of the class. In addition to the community-service requirement, the scholarship requires a 200- word essay.

Once the ball got rolling, the process was pretty quick, the officers said.

“We received a paper to sign and write down what the requirements were and who would decide the recipient each year,” Griffin said. “We decided we would be the ones to pick the best candidate each year.”

For the next ten years, the four officers will get together before the high school’s graduation to look over applications and pick a recipient. Keeping in touch is something the four look forward to, as they became fast friends during their tenure.

“We knew each other before we were elected, but we’ve become much closer friends since freshman year,” Sylvester said. “It’s a really great group.”