Tolman car wash will help Class of 2021 enjoy prom

Tolman car wash will help Class of 2021 enjoy prom

PAWTUCKET – Wanting to help the Tolman High School Class of 2021 enjoy the last few weeks of their high school careers, class advisers and members of the class are hosting their first fundraiser in more than a year this weekend.

The class will hold a car wash in the driveway at Tolman, 150 Exchange St. in Pawtucket, this Saturday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in an effort to raise money for prom, slated for June 3. Funds will help students who can’t afford the event, said Heather Hopkins, co-adviser for the Class of 2021.

“Our goal is to help the senior class have the best night possible after a rough year and send them off the best way we can,” Hopkins told The Breeze. “They’ve had a rough year. We’re hoping to end it a lot nicer than it started.”

The cost is $5 per car and donations beyond that will be accepted, the advisers noted. “It’s usually a good turnout for the class,” said Tom Geruso, class co-adviser. While the car wash will follow safety guidelines, he said they’re hoping to get a decent number of students participating. “The kids are happy to do something,” he said.

They’ve been working closely with the administration to get something off the ground, Hopkins and Geruso noted.

“We’re giving them something, more than we thought we could,” Hopkins said. “We’re happy we pulled it off.”

The class hasn’t been able to hold any fundraisers for the past year, which has “put us in a tough spot,” Geruso said. “Any support we can get would be greatly appreciated.” Geruso said he believes the last fundraiser they held for the class was in 2019. Hopkins said they tried to pull off an online event to raise money during the pandemic but “it didn’t go very well.”

Because of the lack of fundraising, Hopkins said the Class of 2021 is financially strapped.

“It will be a financial struggle, but we’ll pull it off,” she said.

The event will help a class that’s had many challenges during the pandemic “have the best last few weeks of high school,” she said.

Students have been pretty stressed out with distance learning this past year and haven’t been involved as much in clubs and activities, Hopkins said. “It’s been hard to hold traditional Student Council meetings.”

At the beginning of the school year, Melany Veliz, a senior at Tolman and president of the Student Council, said her peers were feeling pretty low and weren’t expecting to have senior prom or graduation. “It’s going to happen,” she said, “and students are more willing and interested in participating.”

Distance learning at first “was really hard to get used to,” especially since teachers couldn’t teach face-to-face. “Now that it’s a hybrid (model), it’s been really helpful,” she said.

The Class of 2021 also missed out on their junior prom last year because of the pandemic, Geruso noted. Veliz added that she expects there will a big turnout for prom. “It’s the last opportunity to have a high school experience as seniors,” she said.

Her class, Veliz said, is full of talented individuals, many of them going off to college or into the military after graduation.

“Prom is what we need to keep us excited and encouraged,” she said.

With the first fundraiser in more than a year and the upcoming senior prom and graduation, Geruso said things are starting to resemble some normalcy and students are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We want them to know that as crazy as it is, we want them to have a good end of the year,” he said. “This is the last hurrah as seniors.”

Hopkins said she thinks students are excited, noting that they keep popping into her classroom to ask her questions about prom and graduation.

Her message to the Class of 2021, she said, is that the Tolman faculty are behind them and supporting them. If the seniors can make it through this past year, Geruso said, “the whole world is open to them.”