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Norwich students donate grad trip money to local clubs and foundation

Emily Stowe Elementary school in Norwich. Thames Valley District School Board

Grade 8 students from Emily Stowe Elementary School in Norwich are turning the disappointment of their cancelled graduation trip into an opportunity to give back to the community.

The 54 students were supped to take a trip to Quebec City last school year to celebrate graduation but the trip was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students had raised $12,887.27 for the trip and have decided to donate the funds to the Children’s Health Foundation and the Otterville Optimist and Norwich Optimist clubs.

“It was unfortunate that our students and their families could not have the graduation event we all hoped for, but the school is very proud of the generosity that the students have demonstrated in giving back to charities in their community,” said principal Christine Harrower.

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The three organizations set to receive the funds were chosen after the school sent out a survey to the graduates and their families about where they wanted to see the money go.

The foundation and the two clubs will each get an equal share of the total.

Alison Vankerrebroek, president of the Norwich Optimist Club, who is also an Emily Stowe teacher, said her organization is especially grateful for the donation since the club’s traditional fundraisers have been curtailed by COVID-19 public health restrictions.

“I am so pleased that the Grade 8s chose our local Optimist club that puts the money right back into the community,” said Vankerrebroek.

The clubs are not the only groups that had fundraisers put on hold because of the pandemic.

“This year has been difficult, with many plans cancelled or postponed,” said Scott Fortnum, president and CEO of the Children’s Health Foundation.

“While it is disappointing that these Grade 8 students missed out on a graduation trip, it is wonderful to see them find a way to make it still meaningful.”

Fortnum said the funds will be used to support patients at Children’s Hospital who are experiencing their own challenges in the hospital during a pandemic.

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A special outdoor ceremony is planned with students from the graduating class presenting the donations to representatives from each organization on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. at Emily Stowe Public School.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school recognized the Grade 8 graduates with a virtual event that included a drive-up photo opportunity on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

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