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South Valley Journal

RHS Silver Rush will look different, feel the same

Dec 03, 2020 03:00PM ● By Jet Burnham

Large group activities, such as this one from 2015, will be changed to virtual participation this year. (RHS Facebook)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Silver Rush is the annual charity drive at Riverton High School. Normally, the month of December is filled with group fundraising activities and community events. Restrictions due to the pandemic threatened to cancel it this year. 

RHS Student Body President Dallin Carter, along with SBO presidents from other nearby high schools, met with Superintendent Anthony Godfrey to ask that the annual charity drives not be cancelled.

“It was very insightful to be able to listen to all the different high schools and realize we're all in the same situation,” Carter said. “We are all struggling. We all have had a lot taken away from us, and we all want some sense of normalcy. I'm amazed and blown away by the love and commitment of all these student body officers.”

Just weeks before charity season was to begin, the Jordan Board of Education decided high school charity fundraisers could move forward, trusting students and administrators to execute activities according to current public safety parameters.

“We're all super grateful that it's happening, whether it's virtual or in person,” SBO Christopher Dooley said. “It's just the fact that everything's been taken away so quickly from us, but this is one of the things that we're fighting for.”

SBOs are trying to continue traditional activities with some creative adaptations, moving some to virtual and adapting others.

“We have plan A, B and C for every event,” Carter said. “So if something happens, we'll have a backup plan. And if something happens to that backup plan, we have another backup plan.” 

The goal is to follow safety measures while maintaining the spirit of Silver Rush, a 22-year community tradition.

“This is the first time we've ever had to reimagine some of the stuff that we've done for Silver Rush,” Dooley said. “It's definitely been a difficulty, but it's kind of expanded what Silver Rush is all about. It's driving that point home that it's never about the money, it's about the change; it's about service and how you can help those people and those foundations.”

SBO’s are determined to generate the same level of engagement as in previous years.

“The best thing about Silver Rush is the atmosphere that is created here at Riverton High,” SBO Kate Sorensen said. “Never before have I heard of or seen such a different group of students and faculty that come together, despite their differences, to be able to impact not only our school, or the charity we choose, but the community overall. We are really able to make such a difference.” 

The season normally begins with an overnight transformation of the school’s commons area and hallways with an explosion of festive decorations. If restrictions prohibit SBOs being able to decorate during after-school hours, students said they will find a way to do it during class time because they feel it is an especially important element this year.

“It’s a visual reminder that it is Silver Rush season—we’re still doing it even if it is different,” Dooley said.

The energetic kickoff assembly, when the charity is announced, and the celebratory closing assembly, where the total money raised is announced to thunderous applause, will be replaced with video presentations.

“We're hoping we'll be together in spirit and together at heart, as we all create the video and watch it all together and experience the same things, just in different places,” Carter said.

In addition to adapting activities such as Mr. Silver Rush, Battle of the Bands and Silver Swap to virtual events, SBOs have also brainstormed ideas for new activities such as a drive-in movie. 

Instead of going door-to-door to do Odd Jobs and collect donations from the community, they are planning to live stream a telethon in which community members can call in to make a donation.

Changes to the traditions were necessary and difficult, but Carter said the change just might be what was needed this year.

“We are changing things to be able to match what our students need this year rather than what Silver Rush traditions are,” Carter said. What students need this year, he said, is connection.

“Right now, a lot of kids feel alone and isolated,” he said. “And that's what we love about Silver Rush, is that brings us together. And so this year, we're trying to enhance that even more, trying to bring our school together and make them feel like they're a part of something.”

SBO Olivia Dibble said they have been planning activities to get people involved, even without the big group events. SBO Missy Hostette believes holding more virtual activities will ultimately be more inclusive.

“This year may be different because fewer students will be able to contribute to Silver Rush in person,” Hostette said. “Instead, they will join through online media. However, this can help students that aren’t able to come to school get involved in the culture of Silver Rush.”

The opportunity to reimagine what Silver Rush means has renewed the focus. SBOs hope to keep students focused on the purpose of the activities instead of worrying what they’re missing out on. Every year they remind students, it’s not about the money; it’s about the change.

“Sometimes, and in years past, we have lost sight of that and what Silver Rush really stands for,” Sorensen said. “The root of Silver Rush is raising awareness, creating service opportunities and giving back into our community.”

The charity the students are collecting money for this year is Bear-O-Care, which is located just down the street from the school. Bear-O-Care is a care center for adults with disabilities, providing a place for them to continue to learn life skills once they age out of high school programs at age 21.

Immense support from the community is something students hope won’t be different this year.

“This year, more than ever, we especially need help from the community,” Sorensen said. “Without being able to gather the student body like we normally would, it is important that we reach as many people as possible.”

Community members can check rivertonhigh.org throughout the month of December, to stay updated on activities and access donation links. Information about virtual activities, changes to events, or ways to make a donation will also be posted on RHS Facebook and @rhs_silverwolves on Instagram. Social media posts will alert community members when local restaurants will be sponsoring spirit nights.

SBO Kyle Parker encourages community members to be involved in any way they can.

“This year we are trying to focus on service so even just helping a neighbor is a way to contribute,” he said.

Whatever limitations or changes are necessary, students are determined to do everything they can to keep Silver Rush from being cancelled because of what it means to the students, staff and community.

“I think the best part is seeing all the good that comes out of it, not just getting money for a charity but overall changing the mindset of the students. It brings a whole new meaning of coming together as a school,” Dibble said.

“The best part of Silver Rush is definitely the heart, love and joy that is so prevalent in our school throughout the month,” Carter said. “It's amazing to see the change come over people as they give their hearts to serving another.”