Colonie Central High School is holding a one-of-a-kind event where more than 500 students have volunteered to participate in a fundraiser that has everything from a 5-kilometer race to carnival games, craft vendors and food trucks.
Raiderfest takes place Saturday, May 31, at the high school. The event kicks off with a 5K race at 10:30 a.m. and culminates with a luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go to the American Cancer Society.
The students wanted to make something that people from all age groups and from all over Colonie and surrounding areas could enjoy.
“We were looking for something to get the whole community together. We wanted an event that was non-exclusive, where everybody could join and fight a good cause,” said Abby Holt, a senior at Colonie.
The event was created by the high school’s iCARE team and has been in the works since last August. The iCARE team operates on the core values of Integrity, Community, Accountability, Respect and Empathy and was designed to bring students from all different grades and cliques together.
“ICARE was created to be like an umbrella club to encompass all the other clubs, so if you didn’t feel like you belonged anywhere you could go to iCARE,” said Rachel Tenney.
“We want to give a voice to the voiceless — bring kids that feel like they’re on the fringe or they don’t have a place to belong. When they started getting together, we didn’t want to interrupt what other groups were doing. So, we decided to get together and work towards a common cause,”
said Associate Principal Thomas Kachadurian.
The group decided that they wanted bring people together to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Cancer is an issue that hit home in the school this year when a teacher died from brain cancer and a student in the school was diagnosed with cancer.
“I think cancer is personal. It’s something that hits home for everyone. You can’t disrespect cancer,” said senior Maria Sosiak.
In previous years, iCARE was focused on anti-bullying, and students didn’t seem to take it as seriously. It had become such a tiresome issue that students didn’t want to participate. As the group refocused its attention on building something to help others, instead of preventing something not all students were dealing with, the group grew and unified.
Meetings for iCARE are held every Wednesday afternoon, but with so many students involved in so many different things, they have used social media to talk shop after school is out.
“You have to take into consideration its four different grades, it’s not just seniors. Then you have to take into consideration there are athletes and other clubs, and a lot of them have jobs. So, it’s not like everyone can go to every single meeting,” said Amy Pinkham.
“If someone misses a meeting or misses an event, we can just check the Facebook page or check Twitter,” Pinkham added.
Since Raiderfest has grown so much, the students have delegated tasks based on an individual’s interests and capabilities. By realizing the areas each student excels in, they have been able to find a job and involve every student who wants to help.
The officers of the club have groups of students to manage the Instagram and Twitter accounts; students that make YouTube videos and recruit other students; another student seeking donations from local grocery stores; and even one student to try and get portable bathrooms at a reduced rate.
Teachers have been very supportive of the students participating in the event and realize that it is a project that is developing better students.
“The math teacher wants to make a great math student, and a science teacher focuses on science. Our focus is as biggest perspective as you can get. You want to make a well-rounded kid that is presented with as many opportunities as possible, and that is inherently where they grab on from. I can’t make that happen. We just present the opportunities and talk about it,” said Kachadurian.
“Making an 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. event happen is an unbelievable — maybe even foolish — opportunity to present the kids, but they took it and went in every direction you could possibly do it and added more,” added Kachadurian.
Kachadurian said the project not only involves nearly every club and numerous athletic programs, but also different parent teacher associations. The project really gained momentum when partnering with the Special Education PTA, which was planning an event for April involving food trucks and a craft fair. Local and small businesses have come through to be some of the biggest providers of time and funds.
There will be more than 35 vendors, 25 different carnival games, bounce houses, three lives bands, a student DJ and MC, a farmer’s market, the luminaria ceremony and a Fight Back Against Cancer rally to cap the event.
For more information on parking, shuttles, and a full list of activities, go to southcolonieschools.org.