To Alejandro Perez, a junior at Sumner High School, performing bass trombone in the top jazz ensemble means everything to him.
When the 17-year-old learned of the opportunity to compete in a jazz ensemble competition near Disneyland next October, he worried he wouldn’t be able to afford travel and lodging.
“If I wasn’t able to get any funds for it, I would probably drop band,” said Perez, who started performing his instrument in sixth grade.
His worries were erased Friday morning when his wish to have his expenses paid for was granted. Thanks to generous donations from an assortment of individuals, Perez received $550 to cover the majority of his travel and lodging.
“It was completely amazing to be granted this wish,” Perez said. “I wasn’t having too high of hopes. When the announcement was made at the assembly, it was a huge shock.”
Perez was one of dozens of students that morning who were granted wishes during Sumner High School’s annual Winter Wishes assembly, organized and presented by the ASB Leadership Team. The assembly was the culminating event to the Winter Wishes program that saw more than 1,300 students and staff enter wishes either for themselves or for others. By Friday, more than 700 wishes were granted.
“We want students to be able to wish for whatever they want,” said Brandon Wentzel, ASB leadership advisor and leadership teacher. “We also put a focus on wishing for other people, so students are able to wish for one thing for themselves and two things for others.”
Students receive a list of wishes identified by a number with names of students removed. Wentzel said this encourages students to give to others without knowing who they’re giving to and expecting credit for their generosity.
“It’s helping students feeling valued and loved and that they are cared for and they matter,” Wentzel said.
Staff receives a confidential list of wishes that includes student names.
“(In this way), we can help students whose stories we know a little bit more about, or whose wishes are more need-based that help students and families,” Wentzel explained.
Over the past several weeks leading up to the two-hour assembly on Friday, ASB leadership students dressed in elf costumes delivered wishes to students. Many of the bigger wishes were granted at the assembly.
“It really picks up steam as we go,” Wentzel said.
For Jewel Cross, a senior and the ASB Leadership activity coordinator and lead organizer of the 2016 Winter Wishes program, the assembly on Friday was a testament to the joy of the season and the giving spirit embodied by students, staff and the Sumner community.
It was so surreal and so magical. We got to do every wish we planned on. Everything worked out.
Jewel Cross, ASB Leadership activity coordinator
“I’m honestly overwhelmed,” Cross said. “It was so cool to see everything I worked on since August had come together. It was so surreal and so magical. We got to do every wish we planned on. Everything worked out.”
An example of the spirit of giving that Cross said will stay with her was the Sumner Rotary’s outpouring of generosity to a student’s family whose father suffering from chronic health problems wanted to attended the Christmas Eve Seattle Seahawks game.
The student’s original wish was for two tickets for their mother and father. But to Cross’s surprise, the Rotary and two anonymous donors contributed four tickets so the whole family could go and $220 to pay for parking and dinner.
“It makes you take a step back,” Cross said. “I love my town of Sumner, because they’re so giving.”