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Planning Walkathon/Pep Rally

Patrick Reinhofer, Contributor

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Walkathon, one of the biggest events of the ND year, only 2-3 hours long, lasts one day, but is easily one of the most exciting and fun events ever. It has the Big Walk, through suburban Niles, the grand Don spirit photo, the various activities and games (navy football, spikeball, ultimate, academic bowl, etc), the commercial food, and the EPIC pep rally. Some people might be wondering, what goes into planning and managing the big event? Focus sat down with the key people behind the big event, which includes Coach Bob Kostuch, Mr. Skip Lawson, and Coach Dean Cademartori, to ask them about just what goes into making it all happen:

Focus: On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard is it to organize overall?

Coach Kostuch: It’s an event planning job for 800 students and 100 faculty. And lots of space constraints, like only having 1 gym floor. The walk, the games, attendance, and all the hiccups, like this year Kairos fell the same week. So, planning for students being out throws a wrench into things.

Mr. Lawson: I would say an 8.

Coach Cad: The Pep Rally does take some planning, but isn’t over-the-top difficult.  I would have to say between a 7-8.  A lot of the teachers and coaches are willing to help and having Ms. Tomaszewski as a co-moderator is a real plus.

Focus: What factors do you specifically focus on when setting it all up?

Coach Kostuch: I want it to be a fun experience for all students.  So, I try and have events that every student will participate in, and try to be as organized as possible.  I look for new events and cool prizes each year.

Mr. Lawson: We look for a theme that we know the guys will find fun and enjoyable. For example, this year, we had thought about a possible Cubs vs. White Sox theme, but with the Rio Olympics taking place, we ultimately decided on the Don Olympics.

Coach Cad: We focus on trying to get the whole school involved in some way.  When creating a Pep Rally, we want all the activities to run smoothly together and keep the audience entertained while it is going on.  Also, during each Pep Rally, Ms. T and I want to incorporate each sport that’s currently in season at that time into the rally.

Focus: How do you usually come up with ideas/themes and activities for it?

Coach Kostuch: This year we came up with a Cubs vs. Sox theme or an Olympic theme and then stayed with the Olympics to coincide with the Rio Olympics.  It’s a lot of brainstorming and being up with the times.  For the events, we try to keep some old, like NAVY football, and then add some new, like Spikeball.  

Mr. Lawson: First of all, Coach Kostuch does all that work for me. He may underplay his role in the Walkathon, but really, the Walkathon is all his. He obtains resources, ideas, everything. I just assist with financing and stuff. With that said, he always comes up with themes and activities by taking ideas from pretty much everyone.

Coach Cad: The activities and themes for the rallies and spirit week are all decided by the students.  The Pep Club, as a group, submits suggestions on what they would like and then we vote on it as a whole.  The Pep Club has senior officers who oversee the ideas for the rallies as well.

Focus: What resources do you usually have to obtain for it?

Coach Kostuch: Resources: HELP!  Our PE department, the Junior Leaders and Pep Club all step up, which is great.  There are so many people to thank for behind-the -scenes work that they are hard to remember. like Mrs. Christoffel helps sort and count t-shirts.  Little things like that help.  The other big one is time/man hours.  It takes a ton of time to get it all done.  Other than that, a few bucks for some equipment, some donuts for the leaders, and we are set!

Mr. Lawson: Well, like I said earlier, the resources are all obtained by Kostuch. Honestly, Kostuch pretty much is the Walkathon.

Coach Cad: Most of the items and resources we already have here at N.D. for the pep rally.  But, each year we like to create a T-shirt for a specific game or event that anyone can purchase to help make the theme or event more enjoyable.  In past Pep Rallies, we have rented an inflatable jousting ring which the students have really liked and get a huge kick out of it.  

Focus: Do you find it fun overall?

Coach Kostuch: Fun is not the word.  Stressful!  If the students enjoy it, then it’s worth it!

Mr. Lawson: Absolutely!! It’s rewarding to see the guys having fun and to see the school really grow in spirit. Where I’m really satisfied, however, is when the guys give it their all, when the participation goes above 70 percent. On a side note: my goal is to one day raise $180,500 for the biggest and best Walkathon anyone could imagine!

Coach Cad: Yes, I find it very fun! Even though sometimes it can be a lot of work, it makes it all worthwhile when you see it in action and get to watch all the students having fun, cheering, and sharing school spirit.

As you can see by our leaders’ comments, Walkathon requires hard work and creativity to truly make great. However, if every Don, parent, staff member contributes even a little, the Walkathon can be the biggest and best ever!!

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Planning Walkathon/Pep Rally