When they depart from their soon-to-be alma mater in the spring, the senior class at St. Michael’s College in Colchester will be the first to leave behind a tangible senior gift in six years.
After a couple brainstorming sessions over the past weeks, the senior gift committee decided to raise money for a granite stone bench to be situated at The View – a popular overlook showcasing Mount Mansfield across from the college campus.
“It’s a peaceful spot where people can just go and relax,” said Ally Huttick, co-chair of the senior gift committee.
The bench will also include a plaque that reads “Class of 2017,” along with a quote the seniors will vote on in the coming weeks.
“It is really difficult to summarize four years with one quote because of all the experiences we’ve had,” said Mike McCarthy, co-chair of the gift committee. “Although it may be difficult to put into words, people understand the sentiment.”
The group kicked off fundraising efforts last Tuesday, starting with tabling events in the student center. Seniors were encouraged to donate $20.17, and those who did received a St. Mike’s pint glass.
The chilly weather, Huttick said, has been helpful for the committee.
“A bunch of seniors have been walking by [the tables] because it’s so cold, they don’t want to walk around,” Huttick chuckled.
As of Friday, the 20-member committee had solicited donations from 68 seniors and raised around $1,300. Ultimately, they would like to have 50 percent of the senior class give a donation and raise a total of $2,300.
“It’s a very ambitious goal for sure,” said Michaela Rivers, St. Mike’s assistant director for annual giving. “The Class of 2016 reached 42 percent, which is really great.”
If the committee continues to receive donations at that rate, Rivers said, it would most likely exceed their monetary goal. If that happens, the senior class will vote on which campus institution to gift the extra funds.
“If we do surpass our goal, our hope is to direct that money in a way that really embodies everyone’s thoughts,” McCarthy said. “People have floated the idea of giving back to the Bergeron Wellness Center.”
For its next fundraising event, the committee plans to table at the men’s and women’s senior night basketball games on February 18 as a way to reach more seniors and show support for the teams.
“Because seniors are living on different parts of campus, it’s hard to get the whole class together so we looked for an event that would bring us together,” McCarthy said.
The committee hopes to have the bench installed at The View before graduation, Rivers said, but if that doesn’t work out, she said it may be part of alumni weekend events.
While the bench will serve as a symbol of the 2017 senior class’ pride in their college, it is also a way to honor the four St. Mike’s community members – Jeremiah Collins, Will Peterson, the Rev. Michael Cronogue and Donna Oles – who died this past semester.
Though it won’t be dedicated to anyone specifically, the bench will represent the class’ solidarity and ability to overcome the collective loss they experienced, McCarthy said.
“In a way, for the senior class, I think the bench is an object that says, ‘We made it. We made it through this year together as a class,”’ Huttick said. “This is kind of showing that united front.”