ISLESBORO, Maine – For the students at Islesboro Central School, the class trip is a really big deal.
Teenagers who go to school on the tiny island of Maine have visited places as exotic as Iceland, Norway and Panama in recent years. The school trip is something that students dream of and work towards for years by running fundraising drives.
“It definitely means a lot to all students,” said Olivia Britton, 17, a Belfast graduate, this week.
But the coronavirus pandemic has shaken travel and fundraising plans for both classes in 2020 and 2021. So instead of packing their bags, the 13 high school graduates did something special this spring.
They decided to donate much of the money they raised before the pandemic – a total of $ 5,000 – to the Islesboro Community Fund, which will use it to set up vaccine clinics on the island and help islanders in need.
The student donation helped pay for the administrative aspects of running the vaccine clinics, including purchasing personal protective equipment, transportation costs, and paying overtime for workers. The efforts have paid off. Islesboro has a 99% vaccination rate for COVID-19, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think the engagement of the Islesboro seniors is heartwarming,” said Owen Howell, medical assistant at Islesboro Health Center, who ran the clinics. “I think it’s selfless from them. You show wonderful leadership qualities in times of COVID. I know they would have loved to go on their journey. But they make the most of it and do something important with all the sweat it has cost. ”
The teens said they wanted to share their money with the community because it was the community that helped them raise it in the first place. They bought the concessions that high school seniors sold at home games and bought tickets to the spaghetti and Thanksgiving dinners they hosted.
“The island has supported us all along,” said Britton. “They came to all of our dinners and were very nice and busy with us. They didn’t mind if we screwed it up. ”
Liefe Temple, 18, of Lincolnville, another graduate, said it didn’t feel right for students to try other ideas.
“When it became clear we couldn’t use the money on a school trip, it felt really weird to use the money on something else or keep it for ourselves,” she said. “That’s not what the community gave us for.”
So they gave a lot of it back.
Your generosity meant a lot to the islanders, not only for what the money did, but also for the impetus behind the donation.
The 70-year-old Islesboro Community Fund helps residents in need who may have difficulty paying medical, fuel, or utility bills. It also supports a scholarship program to help young Islesboro teenagers meet expenses for higher education or post-secondary education.
“We had a running list of organizations,” said Temple. “We thought the community fund would make sense because they did all this COVID relief and COVID was the main reason we couldn’t make the trip.”
Islesboro Community Fund president Fred Thomas said the Class of 2021 donation specifically helped islanders facing unforeseen medical expenses and food security issues due to the pandemic. It also helped offset the cost of running the COVID-19 vaccination clinic on the island.
Islesboro Central School seniors practice marching prior to graduation, which will take place on Sunday, June 13th. Photo Credit: Courtesy Olivia Britton
“Everyone is very proud of them,” said Thomas. “I think it’s more than generous. Not only does it show maturity beyond their years, it also shows that these students are aware of the need in their community and are ready to do something about it. ”
He and others will officially recognize the students’ gift on Sunday, June 13, just before their high school graduation ceremony.
“Adults, those over 50, usually complain about today’s youth,” said Thomas. “I think the opposite is the case with these guys at least.”
For their part, the students thought it was cool that their donation helped the islanders get vaccinated and hope that with the money they have reserved they can do something as a class, which John van Dis, a science teacher at Islesboro Central School and one of the Senior Class Advisors, the estimate is between $ 2,000 and $ 3,000.
It won’t be a trip to Italy or Greece. But for the 2021 class, it’ll be a chance to do something fun with their friends before they blow up and leave high school behind for good.
“Many seniors have missed a lot. It was part of that kind of shared experience of the absence of rites of passage, ”said Britton. “We said it would be fun to play bowling, play mini golf, and get pizza.”