by Luis Conteras
On Wednesday, students new and old united for Walk-a-thon, an annual tradition where students walk the bayou as part of a fundraiser for student council and the activities they plan.
Every September, students call their friends and family asking for donations. Any students that bring in donations get to dress down and take part in a stroll around the bayou.
The excitement began in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday.
From before the bell rang, students were eager to get started. But the moment of truth seemed to take forever to get here.
Classes went by slowly. As the emotions built, attention soon turned from teachers trying to make use of a short schedule, but all that the students could hear was the thumping of their hearts as the excitement reached a peak.
Finally H period rolled around and everyone was dismissed to gather with their friends in the courtyard. Once in groups, the students pushed and shoved their way to the starting line, where Dean of Students Mike McConnell let a few people begin at a time.
Once finally out, students enjoyed themselves on the trail. They talked, listened to music and, for a brief period, escaped the stress of school.
To make things even better, the students returned to free Gatorade and ice cream. With the crazy heat beating down on everyone, this was an excellent way to cool down and close out the walk.
Students enjoyed the walk, and junior Greg Hoffman echoed those sentiments.
“Walk-A-Thon is a great event,” Hoffman said. “It was a lot of fun, and all our efforts went towards a great cause.”
As if the event was not already great enough, students actually received rewards for participating.
For different amounts of donations, students earned different rewards, including free lunches, outings to baseball games, paintball matches and even free tickets to dances like Homecoming next weekend.
The incentives are split into three different categories: silver, gold and platinum.
Silver is the lowest category. For bringing in $25, a student receives free tickets to an Aeros game and will get to attend a crawfish boil and casino night later in the year.
Those who bring in $50 earn the chance to attend a Dynamo game, a free ticket to a movie at Edwards and ability to participate in a paintball tournament with other gold members.
Gold members also get to take advantage of all the silver rewards.
The highest possible category is platinum. With a total of $100, students get special perks including laser tag, a Round-Up dance, three free catered meals, another paintballing trip, a trip to Schlitterbahn for a day, a Rodeo outing and even a free ticket to Homecoming.
All three categories are worth shooting for but the main goal for everyone was to reach platinum status.
Some of the activities are old favorites from years past.
Paintball, laser tag and a trip to Schlitterbahn are all classics that have students’ eyes widening year after year.
But this year some new faces also make the list.
When asked about new incentives for this year’s Walk-a-thon, Director of Student Activities Joe O’Brien was eager to share.
He revealed an extra paintballing trip and brought up a new Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo outing.
While he is unsure what part of the rodeo, students will be going to, he is positive that there will be a group attending the festivities in March.
The event O’Brien was most thrilled about though, was the revival of the Round-Up Dance.
“Students have been asking for more dances recently, and I’ve been reluctant because of the behavior that goes on at those things,” O’Brien said. “But they finally got to me, and we’ve decided to plan a new Round-Up dance that will be free for platinum members.”
These events were a huge incentive for students to bring in as much as they could.
According to the business office, students raised more than ever, reaching a total of $25,989.
Needless to say Walk-a-thon was a great success this year. The student council worked hard for weeks to put together the best event possible.
Senior Matt Sorrels was an important part of the planning this year.
“It was fun to be a part of something so cool,” Sorrels said. “It was all really cool. If only there were icees at the end though.”
With this being a large source of funds for student council this year, donations are incredibly important. Even more intrinsic to Walk-a-thon, however, is the community it builds.
740 students attend St. Thomas, each with his own personality and style. With so many unique people, it is difficult for everyone to have one thing in common. But Walk-a-thon does this. By uniting and raising money for one common effort, all 740 have something in common with each other: a love for their school.
O’Brien put it in a perspective that makes you stop and consider the event in a new way.
“This community of St. Thomas is special,” O’Brien said. “Through Walk-a-thon and the events that come as incentives, the students build a connectedness to each other and to their school.”