The Cheshire High School Class of 2020 faced its fair share of hardships this year, battling all the “new normals” brought on by a global pandemic.
When traditional in-school learning was rapidly switched over to a virtual platform, all in-school events and many annual activities had to be canceled or postponed.
For CHS seniors, canceling everything from Senior Prom and Senior Day to the All-Night Grad Party not only dealt a serious blow to those looking to make the most out of their senior year, but also begged the question: What happened to the funds normally used to pay for those activities?
Typically, the funding for such events comes directly out of the students’ pockets in the form of class dues, which are collected by the designated class advisors each year students attend the high school. Students also hold fundraisers in order to bring the cost of the class dues down.
The issue of class dues, which are about $30 per student per year according to Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan, sparked some controversy on social media in the spring and summer, when several parents voiced concerns over how the money for the 2019-2020 seniors will be spent, given the fact that this year’s seniors lost out on so much.
“I am appalled that I just received an email to purchase the picture taken at the end of the parking lot the night of graduation. These kids paid class dues for all four years,” Noreen Hockert posted on Aug. 11. “They didn’t have a prom, senior picnic, or all-night grad party. This is just another slap in the face to the families.”
The post received over 100 comments from CHS graduates and families who overwhelmingly agreed that CHS should have some way to refund families who paid their child’s class dues.
”Wilcox Tech gave each senior a yearbook, a gym bag, t-shirt, hoodie, gift card for pizza, and a few other things. Did our seniors get anything as a ‘gift’ or a partial refund of class dues?” posted Jessica Otlowski in the Facebook Group.
“From what I understand, a decision was made to hold onto the student class dues in a hope that we might be able to hold some sort of event for the seniors next spring,” said Solan. “I am unaware of any plans to refund the dues, but that decision would have to come from their specific class advisors.”
Many school districts in other towns, such as Farmington, made the decision a few months ago to refund the fees. Such decisions, Solan believes, were made by the advisors at the schools and were not necessarily as a result of district policy.
Cheshire High School principal Dr. Mary Gadd also commented on the matter
“The funds are planned on being used for a spring celebration of our seniors who missed out on so much this past year,” she added. “Their advisors David [Hunter] and Michael [Lougee] are in charge of how the funds are going to be spent and it was agreed that we would try to do something, pandemic permitting, next year.”
Hunter and Lougee did not respond to questions. Gadd did not comment on what would happen if the 2021 spring event is not held. As of now, there is no current plan in place to refund the class dues.