Behind the Back to School Bash

The story behind this falls Back to School Bash as reported by senior Mary Bancroft.

Deposit Photos

The story behind this fall’s Back to School Bash as reported by senior Mary Bancroft.

PRIOR TO  the season’s first home football game, DHS held a Back to School Bash, which, if it had gone according to the initial plan, would have been subsidized by class office funds.

After hearing that $500 from each class was being allocated to the bash, class officers met with Associate Principal Rachel Chavier to discuss their concerns. Ms. Chavier said that she explained her rationale to the students, but also understood where they were coming from. As a result, she gave them a choice as to whether or not they wanted to contribute to the event.

As a result, the Back to School Bash was covered by other student activity funds. About 150 people attended, according to Principal Ross Thibault. He labeled it a success and a potential annual tradition.

Ms. Chavier welcomes student input for the Bash and will begin involving them in the process earlier in the year. “I’d rather students be a part of the planning, take a hold of it, and make it their own,” she said. “I’m just here to oversee and guide them. Students do a great job. They have great ideas, and they know how to get stuff done.”

Both Class of 2020 President Braely Neto and Class of 2021 Secretary Abby Kelly said that they would be open to working with Ms. Chavier on next year’s event, as long as it is separate from class funds.

Neto is grateful administration adressed her concerns. “After hearing some reasoning, I understand why they did that,” she said, “but I’m really glad we got the money back.”

Kelly has pride in how the officers handled the situation. “It could have been very easy to get angry with administration and blow the situation out of proportion,” she said. “However, we handled it maturely and got the outcome we wanted.”

The event was originally intended for freshmen and their peer mentors, in order to help them feel more comfortable attending the game. Mr. Thibault and Ms. Chavier then decided to open it to the entire student body.

Ms. Chavier said, “Mr. Thibault and I talked some more, and we said every class should contribute to it. It was more of a let’s all come together, be a community, and do this for school. If every class contributed to it, they would have a sense of ownership.”

The Classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021 were to contribute $500, which would have paid for the bigger ticket items: the cotton candy machine and the inflatable games. DHS would cover the other expenses. Ms. Chavier announced the plan at a meeting with class advisers a week and a half prior to the event. Class advisers then met with their officers to inform them of the situation.

Class of 2019 Adviser Ann Fifield said, “I was surprised they would take money without asking the classes in advance, but I thought other administrations had used leftover funds in the past.”

Ms. Fifield added that she thought the event was a good idea and would like to see it become an annual thing.

The reason officers were not involved in the decision process was because of how early in the school year the event was according to Mr. Thibault. He said, “It’s not because their voice is not welcome. It was just a timing thing. With only a week and a half into the school year, it’s not like we have months during the summer.” If the event becomes an annual tradition, officers will be included in the process starting in the spring, Ms. Chavier said.

Along with the disappointment regarding their lack of notice, class officers also did not want to donate their funds to the bash. Neto said, “At first I was really upset because I have spent a lot of time and effort on our fundraisers, and so have all of the other officers, and they took a large amount of money without even asking. The junior class only has about $3,500 which isn’t very much, so $500 is a big loss for us.”

Class of 2019 Treasurer Erin Tetrault expressed a similar concern. “We felt like since we fundraised for our class, the money should go to what our class wants,” she said. “Senior year is a huge spending year from senior week to prom, and taking $500 from us to fund something we have no say in is completely unfair.”

Class of 2019 Vice President Sadie Thomas was grateful that administration was willing to address their concerns. She had an alternate plan, just in case they did not. “We planned on determining the rules concerning transfer of money between accounts,” she said, “but the issue was resolved before we had to pursue it any further.”

According to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71 Section 47, the School Committe authorizes a principal to manage student activity funds. A search into the Dartmouth School Committee policies on its website and a query to one of its members yielded no knowledge of any further written policies.

When asked about the policy he follows, Mr. Thibault said that student activity funds can be used for events outside of school hours that are open to students. “There might be some misconception out there that if I’m a senior and I’m raising money, it’s only going to go toward my prom,” he said. “It’s not as black and white as that. The black and white part is that you can’t take money from the student activities account and pay for school supplies.