Jessica Chandler, Jamestown High School's student council president, had an idea to make this year's homecoming special: For the 2019 homecoming game, every Jamestown High School student would have the opportunity to show school spirit for free.
Bringing the suggestion to student council members, Chandler's idea was quickly approved.
Though Chandler was unavailable for comment because she was participating in homecoming court, Ashlyn Schauer, student council treasurer, said the president's goal was to provide every student at JHS a free T-shirt to represent the school for homecoming on Friday, Oct. 4. After seeking donations from businesses and community members all across the Jamestown Area, Schauer said the campaign was successful.
"It's something we've talked about for a long time," said Adam Gehlhar, JHS principal. "We think it's really important that everyone has access to Blue Jay gear at this school."
On homecoming day, Gehlhar said approximately 75% of students at the school were wearing the custom-made T-shirt. The white shirt shows the school mascot paired against the logo of Minot High School, the football team's homecoming opponent. A list of sponsors who donated to the project is included on the bottom.
"Not everybody can always afford a T-shirt," Schauer said. "One of our goals in student council is inclusion within the school system. I think this really unites our student body."
Chandler and other student council members reached out to Len Orr, owner of Orriginals, to inquire about costs for printing over 700 custom T-shirts.
"As part of our contribution to the project, we gave them a pretty good discount," Orr said. "The school is good to us. We do a lot of business with them throughout the school year."
Orr said a total of 766 T-shirts were produced at $3.95 per shirt, costing a total of over $3,000. The student council group was able to raise it all in less than four weeks.
"They (Orriginals staff) were great. They donated shirts, and I think they got all the shirts done in like one day," Schauer said.
Greg Stemen, senior community relations specialist at Sanford Health, said he appreciated the opportunity to contribute by donating money toward helping students show school pride.
"This is a great way to demonstrate school and community spirit for homecoming," Stemen said.
Though Schauer is a senior and will graduate in the spring, both Schauer and Gehlhar said the project's success could carry on beyond 2019.
"The businesses the students spoke to, those businesses said they would do this again in the future," Gehlhar said. "Together we're one community, one school."
Kenneth Gardner, English, speech and government teacher at JHS, said he would like the student council to continue the project in the future "if at all possible."
"It's a different way, it was a creative way, to unify the student body," Gardner said. "It's done in a visual way. A student can see everybody around them the same as they see themselves."
The high school's student council is made up of 25 elected students, with five from each grade and five representing the executive board. Having the input from all grade levels allowed the council to go against the grain when it comes to what other schools do for homecoming, Schauer said.
"When you look at other schools and they have shirts with stuff like senior and junior and freshman ... having the same shirt for all grades really unites our student body," Schauer said. "It unites our student body and our faculty together."