The COVID pandemic has forced schools to make significant changes to the way they operate. Teachers are educating students online, lecturing from behind plexiglass, and adapting lessons to enable social distancing. The pandemic has also forced the Duchesne Advancement office to modify or overhaul crucial fundraising events to accommodate the need for social distancing and other precautions.

Duchesne Academy’s Advancement Department decided in June to change Congé 2021 from the traditional gala to a collection of smaller events that will conclude with an exciting five-day bidding period January 25-30, 2021.

“We wanted to ensure our event would be as safe and responsible as possible which is why we made the difficult choice to cancel our traditional gala and work with our event chairs to create a new way to celebrate and support Duchesne,” said Vice President of Advancement Katie Risch Bakhit.

Congé is Duchesne’s largest fundraising event. In 2020, it drew 500 people to the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District and raised $550,000 for tuition assistance and the school’s operating budget.

An event of that size requires significant underwriting to produce. Director of Special Events, Meghan Rowen, typically spends the fall working with Congé chairs to host a series of events to raise money to offset underwriting costs. When COVID precautions forced the cancelation of those events, they reimagined how to secure underwriting.

“Our goal is to host fundraising events that are fun, social, and successful. We can never fully recreate the experience of a real party but we’re excited about what we’ve created and we know our community is ready to step up and help Duchesne,” said Rowen.

The first of those reimagined events is this weekend. DASH for Congé is a self-guided walkathon participants can complete wherever and however they like. More than 100 people have signed up.

“We’ve all been couped up this year and getting our community outdoors, active, and connected seemed like a perfect way to celebrate Duchesne,” Rowen said.

The event was originally set for Sunday, but Rowen says people are welcome to complete their walkathon on Saturday because the weather in Omaha is forecasted to be nicer.

“We have participants across the country and I can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures and videos,” Rowen said.

Participants are encouraged to wear Duchesne Academy apparel and tag @duchesneacademy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share their photos with classmates.

There’s still time to sign up to participate:

Who: Duchesne students, families, alumnae, and friends
What: Self-guided walkathon
Where: Wherever participants want
When: Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18
Why: Support underwriting for Congé 2021
How: Sign up here

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