Student-led fundraising initiatives at two Basilian high schools raised a record-breaking $1.6 million for tuition assistance. Detroit Catholic Central’s annual DRIVE week brought in $802,814 and St. Thomas High School’s Round Up Raffle raised $819,770. The money raised benefits fellow classmates who may not otherwise be able to afford a Basilian education.
A Basilian education for one quarter of Detroit Catholic Central students and one third of St. Thomas High School students is possible thanks to the schools’ robust tuition assistance programs. Making Catholic education accessible to all, regardless of financial means, is a part of the Basilian mission.
“We want our school experience to be accessible to everyone who wants to be here and not just have a school for the wealthy,” said Michael Carrier, director of student activities at Catholic Central.
The impact of the tuition assistance program is easily illustrated at St. Thomas High School. “We like to say when our students are assembled, ‘Look to your right. Now look to your left. If it were not for our tuition assistance program, one of your Eagle brothers would not be able to attend St. Thomas.’ This motivation drives everything we do,” said Mark DeTranaltes, vice president for advancement at St. Thomas High School.
Involving the school communities in supporting each other is a long-standing tradition at both schools as Catholic education is a community effort.
St. Thomas High School’s raffle dates back to 1927, when the Basilian Fathers first raffled off a car to raise money for tuition. For nearly a century, St. Thomas High School students have sold raffle tickets for a chance to win a vehicle. The raffle begins in January and momentum to sell tickets is built throughout February with weekly pep-rallies with skits, contents and draws for prizes. To sell tickets, students reach out to members of their communities including family members, friends and St. Thomas alumni and donors.
About 50 junior and senior students make up the Round Up Board and are responsible for overseeing the collection of tickets and money and coming up with pep rally themes and prizes for top ticket sellers. Each year there is an opportunity to outdo what has been done in previous years: whether it’s the amount raised or the showmanship surrounding the announcement of the final tally. In the past, the student leaders have hired helicopters, parachutists, horse drawn wagons, exotic cars, confetti canons and pyrotechnics to reveal the final number.
“The student body as a whole reached the inconceivable amount of $819,770.00 in raffle ticket sales. This could not have been achieved if every student did not do their part. And that is what makes Round Up so special. The students know all their effort goes to helping their friends and classmates stay a part of the St. Thomas brotherhood,” said DeTranaltes.
For 60 years, a highlight of Catholic Central’s school year has been its DRIVE Week. Students sell raffle tickets and excitement to sell is built by decorating the school according to the year’s theme and at the daily assemblies where students can compete in challenges and win prizes including days off.
“My favorite part of DRIVE is the amount of school spirit and energy throughout the building during the DRIVE week. I also love being able to engineer and build decorations for DRIVE to set up in the hall for the rest of the students to see. But by far my favorite part of DRIVE are the Fridays off school,” said Jason Per, a senior at Catholic Central.
“Everything we do at CC is about generating school spirit and excitement. The bonds of brotherhood that are fostered within the Basilian tradition drive the students to achieve a high level in everything they do. The students enjoy their experience and they care for one another. If they didn’t care, we would never find the success that we do,” said Carrier.
The success of these initiatives demonstrates what can be accomplished when the student bodies come together in the common goal of securing a place for each member of the Basilian brotherhood.
Learn more about St. Thomas’ Round Up Raffle, read
Unimaginable Achievement || Riveting Round Up Student Fundraiser Soars to $819,770 for St. Thomas Tuition Assistance
Watch: The DRIVE: How CC Students Raised $802,814.13 in Ten Days