ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Whether they plan to continue their education at the college level, join the military, or pursue a career right after high school, walking across the stage at graduation is always a pivotal moment for young men and women receiving their high school diploma.
But for many of these students, just bearing the cost it takes to purchase a cap and gown can be prohibitive.
One local businessman wants to change that.
“We were talking about stewardship at our church,” said Chris Kerby, owner of Kerby Custom Renovations in Loxley. “And my wife (Roma, who runs the math department at RHS) and I thought that something we could do to help the community would be to raise money through local businesses to help pay for caps and gowns for all Robertsdale High School graduates.”
Robertsdale High School currently has 299 students in its senior class, said RHS Principal Joe Sharp. At $75 each, that’s a total cost of more than $22,000.
“We’re going to take the first 10 and we’re looking for local businesses to help donate a minimum of $75 to pay for at least one student,” Kerby said. “These students work hard for 13 years to achieve this goal and I think it’s the least we can do to give them something they don’t have to worry about.”
Called “Project Graduation,” anyone wishing to donate can do so at bcbe.org/rhs.
Once there, to donate:
•Scroll down to Resources.
•Click “Pay School Fees” (you will be directed to the e-pay website).
•Select Robertsdale High School from a list of schools.
•Enter your information (you can use your business name for Parent Name, Student Name should be left blank).
•You can enter Cap and Gown in Notes, if you would like.
•Click on Donation drop down.
•Enter donation amount for “Project Graduation.”
•Scroll down, click box to Accept Terms.
•Click box stating you are not a Robot.
If you want, checks can be written to Robertsdale High School. Write Project Graduation in the memo or “For” section of the check. Kerby said they are also planning to open accounts at the Silverhill, Loxley and Summerdale branches of United Bank where donations can be made.
“Our goal is to pay for caps and gowns for all of the graduates this year,” Kerby said. “But whatever we can raise to help alleviate the cost will be appreciated. Our hope is that once we get this set up, we can fundraise for the project year-round and whatever monies we raise over the cost of the caps and gowns can roll over into the following year.”
RHS Principal Joe Sharp said the program fits into the concept of “community” that has long been prevalent in the Central Baldwin area.
“I think it’s great. I’ve never heard of anyone doing anything like this, but I think it fits right in with the Central Baldwin concept of community,” he said. “So many of these kids go to school with other kids that their parents and grandparents went to school together. This is just such a close-knit community and it works with the ideal that people here take care of each other.”
If you would like more information on how you can donate to “Project Graduation,” you can call Kerby at 251-504-5023.