Duxbury High School students are familiar with the lighthearted, fun Candy Grams used to send messages to friends in school. The event, occurring once a year as part of an initiative to help connect students, has become a beloved way of telling a friend a joke or sending an encouraging message to improve their day. This year, Student Council put on the event hoping for an even better response than last year. However, the outcome of the fundraiser was different than their expectations.
Mr. Files, who has been working as an advisor of the class of 2016 and now with the class of 2020 to organize class events and help with funding, says that the goal of the fundraiser was a part of a balance initiative. He has been working with Student Council for the last 6 years, and is familiar with these types of events. December was supposed to be connected to laughter, so the goal was to “tie the candy grams to laughter in the sense that you could write a joke or a fun message to a friend and have it delivered on laughter day.”
Each Candy Gram sent cost a dollar, and the money was supposed to go to the Special Olympics, the Student Council charity of the year. After the first day, said Mr. Files, he looked at the responses and “two of the fifty-something were inappropriate,” along with “ten to twelve being cringe-worthy or uncomfortable.” All of the money donated was ultimately refunded to the students and the event was cancelled.
“They missed the mark as to why they wanted to do it,” said Mr. Files. He says that the event is meant to be fun and casual but taken with respect. “There are lots of places for negative social media-type interactions. It’s important to remind students that there’s a time and a place for us to be nice to each other and make each other feel good.” He urges students to take these events seriously, while still having fun and being lighthearted.
Mr. Bagshaw, a history teacher at DHS, agrees that the decision Student Council made was the right one. “The student body needs to start showing some class and to just pull those few nasty grams and let everything continue sweeps under the rug the members of the student body that think it’s funny to be childish and nasty just for a laugh. There are other ways in which we can be funny.”
Students are also frustrated with some of the responses to the Candy Grams this year. Jackson Lynch, a senior, says that “it’s a shame something so good and charitable had to be cancelled.”
The more honest student opinions that Student Council receives about these events, Files says, the better. The administration wants to know if the events are going to be taken seriously and participated in. If ninety percent of the student body is doing the right thing and ten percent is acting inappropriately, says Files, there are ways to discipline those students in particular. Besides having that conversation, he says it’s important to “change the culture a little bit at a time.” The more activities like this that are presented to students, and the more that they are involved in, the more normal they become.
As for the future? Files wants Student Council to try Candy Grams again next year with the expectation that students will be acting appropriately. “The hope is that we should always do activities like this in order to involve the entire student body and share a message – the right message.”