By Woodard, Dale on July 3, 2020.
The high school graduating class of 2020 saw the signs.
Wanting to recognize graduating high school students who had their graduations affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Re/Max Real Estate Lethbridge launched The Class of 2020 celebration and bursaries initiative in late-May, allowing grads to place signs on their front lawns promoting this year’s class.
Earlier this week at the Re/Max Real Estate Lethbridge office, a trio of graduates who decorated their front lawns as part of the promotion cashed in.
Earning $1,000 bursaries to go toward their post-secondary education were Andrew Durling of Winston Churchill High School, Sarah Wilkinson of Chinook High School and Rachel Pack of Taber W.R. Myers.
When COVID began wreaking havoc back in March, Dallas Harty and wife Katrina, owners of Re/Max Real Estate Lethbridge, knew they needed to do something to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s graduating class.
“I think when this all happened with all the restrictions and such we were feeling really badly for the grads,” said Harty. “It’s a really important part of people’s lives. It’s their first milestone. I think we can all remember back to what great times those were. We thought ‘Hey what can we do?’
“I got on the phone with some of the great sponsors and they were on it just like that. They’re very good community businesses and that’s really what makes the world go round, we have to help each other.”
The Class of 2020 initiative allowed graduating students to acquire the sign stating “I’m a grad of 2020” to stick in their lawn by contacting Re/Max Real Estate Lethbridge via email or social media, entering them into a draw to win a bursary.
“We went on social media and said ‘Hey we want to help, here’s a single point of entry, go to our Facebook page and connect with us by email for the Re/Max Class of 2020.’ That was our single point of entry,” said Harty, who was joined in the Class of 2020 promotion by The Lethbridge Herald, Mortgage Design Group, Sobeys Uplands, KB Heating & Air Conditioning, Murray Chevrolet Cadillac, Design Signs, Country 95.5 and B-93.3 FM.
The graduating students quickly got on board with the initiative. Launched on a Friday, over 200 grads had signed up by the first weekend.
“The uptake was incredible,” said Harty. “In the beginning we thought if there was, in the surrounding area, 1,200 grads then maybe we get half we thought that would be extraordinary. We had over 600 grads sign up for this. We had the signs and we were fortunate enough to be able to give away some bursaries.”
So overwhelming was the response that a third bursary was added.
“We were originally going to give away two and we had some people come on board from Re/Max, some agents saying ‘Hey, we want to help even more.’ So we were able to raise another $1,000 and were able to give away three,” said Harty, adding a bursary is a little more flexible than a scholarship as far as where the funds can go. “Maybe they have to use it for rent or they can use it for whatever.”
Durling plans on working for a while before enrolling at Lethbridge College to study criminal justice.
Wilkinson also plans to attend Lethbridge College, taking civil engineering.
“It’s just fabulous and I can’t even begin to tell you the messages we’ve gotten from families, parents and the grads themselves,” said Harty. “We are pretty proud to have done a lot of community stuff over the years, but this one was just amazing.”
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