This past weekend, the students participated in their third annual combined Relay for Life. Nearly 400 teens from the two schools fund-raised for the American Cancer Society (ACS) event. The students collected about $47,000, just $1,000 shy of their goal. Donations can still be made on the Relay For Life website. Northville and Novi students also competed in games throughout the evening. Northville won the Novi-Northville games for the third year in a row.
It is the only such event run entirely by teenagers in all of Southeast Michigan, said Sarah Evitts, community representative for the ACS Southeast Michigan Office. Students form teams and one member of each team must walk the track for a 24-hour period.
"The community events usually have some high school participation," she said. But Northville and Novi had high very numbers of high school students involved, she added, prompting the creation of its own event. "It's completely unique and it's so impressive because they're working so hard...teenagers already are so busy."
Students have been working on committees for this event outside of their school day and other activities. They recruit other students to participate, and promote and raise money for the event.
"It's so exciting that you can, at such a young age, plan this event. People think high school students can't do this because we're so young," said Northville High School junior and event committee member Jessica Woodard. "Each year, it gets bigger."
Event chair Rubini Naidu, a senior at Novi High School, said she is proud to have seen the event grow into what it is today. The best part is "knowing you're part of something that's bigger than you," she said. "Everyone is impacted by cancer."
Around the gym at the event, held at Northville Parks and Recreation at the rear of Hillside Middle School, were stations where teams set up activities. Some were as simple as bake sales, another had a jail where students were "locked up" and peers had to pay their way out and in another corner of the gym was an inflatable bounce house.
The experience is something both Woodard and Naidu said they hope to continue.
"I can't imagine not doing Relay," Woodard said. "I'll keep doing it in college. I love it."