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NWSS dry grad committee hopes New West will rally for the Class of 2021

With COVID-19 putting a halt to traditional fundraisers, a GoFundMe campaign has been started for New Westminster Secondary School's dry grad celebrations
The New Westminster Secondary School dry grad committee has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help it raise money in the face of COVID-19. Photo via Getty Images

How do you raise money when no one can gather or meet in person?

New Westminster Secondary School’s dry grad committee is facing that challenge as it tries to figure out how to plan a celebration for the Class of 2021 – with the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic looming over every aspect of its efforts.

“It’s just thrown such a monkey wrench into absolutely every component of the logistics and the fundraising,” said Daniel Fontaine, an NWSS parent who’s helping to organize this year’s dry grad celebrations.

Traditional fundraising ideas like pub nights and 50-50 ticket sales are out of the question, Fontaine pointed out, given that face-to-face interactions are pretty much gone.

So what’s the solution? Go online, of course.

The committee has started a GoFundMe campaign in the hopes of raising $20,000 towards dry grad celebrations. The campaign will officially launch in the new year, but it’s live now if anyone wants to donate early.

Donors will be recognized on the committee’s social media channels (unless, of course, they wish to remain anonymous).

Fontaine noted the dry grad committee is hoping to raise about $35,000 in total from all its fundraising efforts – though how much money it will actually need is still up in the air.

“We don’t even know how much money we have to raise,” he pointed out. “We don’t even know if COVID will still be impacting us in June and to what extent.”

With the uncertainty around social gatherings, it’s difficult for the committee to book any venues in advance. How many of the 400 or so grads will be able to gather in one place? How big a venue would be needed? Will restaurants be able to accommodate large parties by the spring of 2021?

With all of those questions still unanswerable, Fontaine noted the committee may opt to hold the celebration right in the new school.


Class of 2021 the last to graduate from old NWSS

He pointed out it’s an extra-special year for the grad class, since students will be moving into the new NWSS in January – making this year's crop of Grade 12 students both the last grad class to attend the old school and the first grad class to attend the new one.

Given the unique circumstances, Fontaine said, the committee is “pretty confident” that the community will throw its support behind the fundraising campaign. They’re hoping to reach a broad group of people – alumni, parents, grandparents, local businesses.

Fontaine noted it’s been a tough year for the dry grad door prize committee, given that local businesses have been struggling during COVID-19.

“Where people can, if there are businesses that are doing OK, that are doing well, we’re asking if they can do a little bit extra this year,” he said.

Dry grad organizers are also continuing their ongoing bottle drive efforts. Anyone who wants to support the dry grad by donating the proceeds of their returnables can simply go to a New Westminster Return-It Depot and direct proceeds to the NWSS dry grad account (see how-to below).

Other fundraising ideas will be coming in the new year, Fontaine said, so anyone who wants to help out will have plenty of chances to do so.

“We want to make sure this is a grad to remember, for all the right reasons,” he said.


It’s an easy process to donate your bottle and can proceeds to the NWSS dry grad:

  • Put your empty bottles and cans into a clear plastic bag (avoid pull-string closures).
  • Go to your neighbourhood Return-It Depot.
  • At the Return-It Express Kiosk, access the NWSS dry grad account by entering the school phone number (604-517-6391).
  • Enter the number of stickers needed (one per bag).
  • Put the stickers on the bag(s) and put in the bin.
  • Funds will automatically be deposited in the grad committee account.