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‘Chem-free’ grad taking shape


The countdown is on for Grade 12 students at Fort High—only 50 days left until graduation.

And immediately following the ceremony is the annual “chem-free” grad party.

“‘Chem-free’ is a substance-free graduation party that allow graduates to gather as a group one last time to celebrate their high school accomplishments in a safe atmosphere,” said FFHS teacher Brian Gustafson, who has helped organize the event the last 12 years.

“And the last time they get to act as kids, playing on bouncy toys,” he chuckled.

The event runs the night of grad (June 25) from 10 p.m.-4 a.m.

“They will be brought together in the auditorium [at the start],” explained Gustafson.

Several activities are planned, such as “Name that Tune” and “Minute to Win It.”

An assortment of inflatable games also will be on planned although Gustafson could not confirm yet which ones.

“After 3 a.m., we bring everyone into the auditorium and do draws for prizes,” noted Gustafson.

“Every student will leave with a $50 gift card,” he added.

“We try to make sure everyone gets an equal prize.”

Gustafson said there will be other prizes beyond that, referring to the donations the organizing committee receives from the community to give away.

Parents have been planning the party since February, which included choosing entertainment, food, and venue, as well as seeking donors.

“‘Chem-free’ grad is the result of the collaboration of parents, students, and the community as a whole,” Gustafson noted.

“An event like this does not happen unless many people come on board,” he stressed.

Students did a “Tag Day,” which raised $1,600, while a barbecue and car wash held during “Spring Fever Days” in Emo brought in $600.

The initial budget is set at $17,000.

“During the nights of the [high school] musical, we will be running a 50/50 draw,” noted Gustafson.

Tickets will be sold before the show and during intermission.

The committee also has several fundraising events planned for the near future.

For instance, a spaghetti supper is planned for this Saturday (May 9) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

Tickets, which cost $10 for adults and $6 for children, are available at Northwoods Gallery & gifts, the high school office, and at the door.

Then during the annual trade show, the “chem-free” grad once again will have a booth featuring its ever-popular “Cake Roulette.”

A barbecue also will be held Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Safeway.

Another example of an upcoming fundraiser is the “31 Gifts” fundraiser.

“It’s a company that sells all sorts of items from storage solutions to purses and jewellery,” explained parent Donna Kowalski, an independent consultant for “31 Gifts.”

“I did a fundraiser for the [FFHS] Travel Club and thought I’d extend the offer to the ‘chem-free’ grad group, as well,” she reasoned.

The entire commission collected from sales will be donated to the “chem-free” grad.

Nothing has to be repurchased and sold so there is no overhead, either.

“It’s an online fundraiser,” Kowalski explained.

“People follow the link, which takes them to the ‘chem-free’ grad and order from there.

“If people do not want to order online, they can submit a paper order form but it has to go to me,” she stressed.

Kowalski also can be found at the high school musical this week, as well as at the “chem-free” grad trade show booth May 22-23.

“Parents right now are out fundraising from businesses and organizations in town,” noted Gustafson.

“Community members can donate through fundraisers or send cheques to the main office,” he said.

Any businesses that haven’t been contacted yet can reach contact Gustafson at 274-7747 ext. 525 or via e-mail at

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