It’s safe to say the slogan “The Year Sh*t Got Real” accurately sums up what it would be like graduating high school amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s just what’s been printed on custom t-shirts and hoodies for the graduating class in Kimberley.
Rhonda Olson approached Kayla Pendry about a month ago with a grad 2020 t-shirt design she had come across on social media, which features rolls of toilet paper in the place of zeros.
“[Olson] approached me and said ‘what do you think if we put it out there and order some t-shirts from our local t-shirt shop in the Platzl, Big Magic, for the grads to give them something?’” Pendry said. “Because it’s so sad, they’re not going to have a graduation ceremony, they’re not going to have a prom, it’s heartbreaking.”
The two ladies, both of whom have sons graduating this year, agreed to get the project going.
“She took the bull by the horns and she contacted Big Magic to design the shirt and we’ve put it out there to any and all parents and graduates if they want to purchase these t-shirts,”
The orders quickly began to roll in from not only parents of graduates and graduating students themselves, but from other people in the community who wanted to buy shirts to make available for students who may want one, but not be able to afford it.
“It’s heartwarming, especially in a time like this,” Pendry said. “It’s amazing that we have a wonderful community that we have people that would actually say ‘hey here’s $30 for a t-shirt, I don’t care what graduate gets it just make sure that one of the kids that are graduating this year gets a shirt like this because it’s cool.’”
Pendry said that she and her son had sat down just before the outbreak began and were discussing what he’d want to wear to prom and looking over the grad photos they ordered.
“I told him when I graduated in 1986, I’ll never forget that, it was memories, it was fun, it was just an exciting milestone,” Pendry said. “I still have all my graduation memorabilia and I remember who I went to the prom with and what we had for dinner. These kids aren’t going to have that and it’s heartbreaking for them.”
“It changed the way they’re thinking, that’s for sure, because they all thought they were having these ceremonies and preparing for that and doing fundraising,” Olson added. “I know the Kimberley grads broke the record for selling the most flowers.”
Olson is doing the project completely pro bono, only charging the exact dollar amount to people who want to buy shirts.
“I had other parents ask me ‘why aren’t you just even making $5 off a shirt?’ And I said, because that’s not why I started this,” Olson explained. “I started this just to get my son a t-shirt, because I thought it was cool and he liked it.”
Olson put the order in on Thursday, April 16 and at the time of writing, had 47 shirts to be ordered.
“I think Rhonda, even coming up with this idea and going forward and doing all the work and ordering all the shirts, being the contact person and taking all the money, I just think she should be recognized for doing that and I commend her for that, because this is a wonderful idea,” Pendry said.