Haliburton Highlands Secondary School staff member Michelle Backus reacts to the 40 crickets dropped into a ” insect=” helmet.”=” she=” agreed=” to=” the=” helmet=” as=” an=” incentive=” for=” students=” to=” raise=” money=” for=” the=” autism=” speaks=” light=” it=” up=” blue=” campaign.=” darren=” lum=” staff”=

Hawks soar to new heights for autism

By Darren Lum

Published April 12 2016

There were laughs and looks of fright at the local high school this past week for Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign to raise money and awareness for autism.

Like last year the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School staff helped with the initiative.

Principal Dan Marsden offered to wear a blue wig for a day for $200 Rob Gervais wore a form-fitting lycra suit with matching tutu for $400 while Judi Paul jumped in Head Lake for $600. Michelle Backus braved 40 crickets dropped into the “insect helmet” she wore for $800 Jessica Lloyd dyed her hair blue for $1000 for $1200 Derek Little was scheduled to drink a mystery concoction (that may or may not get rescheduled due to Thursday’s snow day) and for the top total incentive of $1500 Brianne Pockett will have the blue puzzle piece representing autism awareness tattooed to her foot.

HHSS shattered last year’s record by more than $300 raising $1651 this year through a raffle and a bake sale.

One of the most prolific promoters of the event Pockett said this record is owed to everyone at the school.

“This total is beyond being just amazing. [It shows] that this school can come together and raise this money on one day for such a great cause. It provides opportunities for enrichment for our local PALS [Practical Academics and Life Skills] class. It gives some of our students the chance to do activities that may otherwise not be available to them” she wrote in an email.

The total goes to Autism Ontario and to local efforts.

Pockett adds this campaign included the organization skills of the Student Government and the Youth Engagement group; the support from secretaries and custodial staff; Judi Paul’s class and educational assistants who not only baked goods but also ran the week of sales at the front of the school; the staff  who provided the incentive to raise more money and also donated baked goods and donated to the sale. Prizes for the draws were donated by McKecks Sharon Rowden of Touch of Class Chris Duchene on behalf of Matt Duchene and Diane Peacock.