By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Carl Albert High School students have helped many people with their philanthropy efforts over the years.
They’ve helped former teachers and students and others in the community.
This year, they truly helped one of their own.
Students raised more than $93,000 for Brooklyn Hawkins, a senior at Carl Albert High School, during their annual Students with a Goal or SWAG Week. The school announced the final total last Wednesday during an assembly at the performing arts center.
“Thank you to everyone that contributed in any way. This doesn’t just happen,” said principal Kristen Goggans during the assembly. “And thank you to the Hawkins family for saying yes, and allowing our Titan family to step up and represent and do what it takes for one of our very own. Students, this is the thing that you will take with you and remember forever.”
Hawkins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She missed most of the first semester of school while receiving treatment. A few weeks ago, Hawkins announced that she is in remission.
“I was not expecting that much and coming from a small school like this, it’s just amazing,” Hawkins said. “Everybody came together for me. I feel very special and very loved today.”
Students from Carl Albert and its feeder schools (Carl Albert Middle School, Schwartz, Barnes, and Soldier Creek) contributed through a variety of fundraisers. Some of them included a Winter Snowball Dance, sales of SWAG shirts and bracelets, talent show, silent disco, dodgeball game, snow cones and more.
SWAG Week also included two unique raffles. Carl Albert alumnus and Philadelphia Phillies catcher JT Realmuto donated autographed cleats and bats. A group of students also raffled off a roundtrip flight to Dallas on a private jet. The trip included a one-night stay at a five-star hotel and dinner at a five-star restaurant.
The school also gives out two awards during the SWAG assembly. David and Candice Massey of Tasty Snow were presented with the Richard Morris “A Legacy of Generosity” Distinguished Patron Award. The Masseys are loyal supporters of SWAG Week and many school and community events.
Schwartz Elementary School received the Spirit of the Community Dedicated Patron Award. The school raised more than $5,400 with a coin war this year. Principal Rondall Jones and teacher Christy Nolen accepted the award.
“I think they must have been $100 bills because I don’t know how you brought in $5,400 with a coin war, but we want to honor you,” said Grace Dozier, Carl Albert teacher.
The school announced that Hawkins would be the SWAG recipient during an assembly early this year. Dozier said the SWAG recipient is usually selected by a committee of administrators from local schools. She said they selected Hawkins after receiving numerous nominations.
“It was overwhelming,” Dozier said. “Anyone can nominate someone for it, and we were getting so many nominations for Brooklyn from teachers and the community.”
Hawkins had helped with SWAG as a student but was initially hesitant to be on the receiving end of it.
“I was dreading the SWAG reveal assembly because I didn’t really want to be the center of attention, but I put my feelings aside because I had to think about my family,” Hawkins said. “It was really cool seeing everyone so happy that it was me and my family. It was really hard to accept that we did need help paying for treatments.”
Hawkins is also donating 20% of the funds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which helps fund clinical research to end blood cancer.
Bailey Gaiski, a senior at CAHS, said this year’s SWAG Week was extra special because of her friendship with Hawkins. Gaiski said many students were inspired by Hawkins’ perseverance, positive outlook and faith.
“There were times that I wanted to be sad because it hurt so much but looking at her made me realize that I needed to be better and look at the positives,” Gaiski said. “She lifted everyone up even when they were down.”
Hawkins said her friends and classmates provided comfort throughout her battle with cancer and with SWAG Week.
“I didn’t want to be the center of attention and they really made sure it wasn’t that way and I appreciated it,” she said. “They changed my perception of it.”