Wa-Hi ASB helps fulfill dreams large and small

ASB officers at Wa-Hi helped fulfill dreams large and small with 'Winter Wish Week.'

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After a school-wide assembly, members of the Walla Walla High School ASB surround P.E. teachers Marc Yonts (right) and Crystal Harris to celebrate Harris baking a pie for Yonts to grant his wish, part of the ASB's campus wide wish granting activities. Yonts said he feels a little silly receiving a pie after other students and staff wished for more important things. He said it was just funny to wish for Holmes, the new teacher on staff, to bake him a pie and was genuinely surprised and touched when it happened. He invited everyone for a slice afterward.

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During a school-wide assembly, Walla Walla High School freshman Alyssa Hernandez walks from the stage carrying her new guitar, a wish she made as part of the ASB's wish granting program at the school.

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After his second period class wished for him to have some hair, hairless Walla Walla High School teacher Mike Locatti wears a wig walking off stage during a school-wide ASB wish granting assembly Tuesday morning.

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During a school-wide assembly, freshman student Colleen Gibbons presents English teacher Tiffany Buissink with a hanging plaque to say thank you for her work to make Walla Walla High School the place that it is. Gibbons wished to honor Buissink, and with the help of the ASB made it happen during the Wish Granting assembly Tuesday morning.

Student leaders at Walla Walla High School were looking for something new to get students excited about school and behind ASB activities.

So they presented Wa-Hi with "Winter Wish Week," a chance for students to cast wishes for themselves and for someone else.

The effort started in November, when simple cards were left in teachers' classrooms for students to fill out. ASB commissioner Chelsah Fulsom said ASB officers began collecting them right away. And soon, wishes started coming true.

The group was inspired to start a Wish Week after watching an online video of Prosser High School students making a handicapped student's wish of playing on the football team and scoring a touchdown come true.

"They made it happen," said ASB teasurer Andrew Hoffman. "The idea is to spread that same kind of program."

The wishes ranged from the simple -- a sweet treat or snack to enjoy one morning -- to the unattainable.

"There was stuff for like cars, and houses," Hoffman said. "Stuff like that, we can't really do that."

Some of the wishes with high hopes weren't all material. More than one student wished for bullying to end on campus, and for students to be kinder to each other in general.

Although ending bullying wasn't really a reachable goal, Hoffman said it got students talking and thinking about how to make that happen.

"It lets us know that things are going on that are good," he said.

Many wishes were personal, but students were also asked to make a wish for someone else.

Some students wished for their parents to go on a date night. Some teachers were also included in the wish-granting. One student asked for a wig for a teacher who is losing his hair.

"We've been able to grant wishes from the size of a candy bar all the way up to a baby cradle," said Megan Thompson, a senior officer.

Because it was a new project, the students' budget was limited. To help grant wishes, they turned to the community, to the school and even to students themselves to help make wishes come true. The baby cradle Thompson mentioned was made by a shop student, for a student's sister who recently had a baby.

Hoffman said they wrote letters to local businesses explaining what they had set out to do. Many, such as Olive Marketplace & Cafe, Book & Game and Ski Bluewood, stepped up and donated items that had come up as wishes.

Hoffman said half the proceeds from the school's annual talent show and fundraiser, Consipracy of Hope, will go to funding the Winter Wish Week program next year. Hoffman said there is the goal that everyone in school get a wish granted during their four years.

The students had a goal of making 200 wishes come true, and came close. In some cases, multiple wishes were granted at once. Some wishes, like for new sports balls and new Wa-Hi sweatshirts, were granted to the benefit of many students. A wish to see local band Soul Status perform resulted in a lunch-time show that was easily seen by hundreds.

Hoffman said the wish-granting was a highlight, but there seemed to be more at play than simply giving students what they wanted.

"It's like you're watching out for one another," he said.

Fulsom felt the wishes sent the message that the student leaders are there, and are listening.

Thompson said it was creating a high school memory, and getting students excited to be at school.

ASB advisor and Wa-Hi teacher Archie McHie said the true gift has been seeing students work together and think about each other.

"Our theme of students helping students is the biggest thing," he said. McHie said next year the students will have learned from the hits and misses of the first year, and can also get other clubs involved.

Other wishes that seemed unattainable still came through in the end.

"We granted 'Nutcracker' tickets three days before the show," Fulsom said. "We pulled it off."

The Wish Week concluded as ASB students visited classes throughout last week granting final wishes. It culminated Tuesday with an all-school assembly, saving some of the more heart-felt wishes for the end.

Gift certificates for dinners were given to students whose parents will finally get to go on a date. Students who wanted to see the school's jazz bands and dance teams perform got to see them during the assembly.

And one student who wished for the choir to sing ABBA's "Dancing Queen" to a friend got to see the wish fulfilled before everyone. Hoffman said ASB ordered sheet music for the choir, and planned to have the student come up on the stage.

"A lot of what we're hearing from students now is, 'Man, I wish would have taken my wish more seriously,'" Thompson said.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317.

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