Teachers suit up for flag football fundraiser

Oct 20, 2017

When the Dartmouth Indians and the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical Bears took to the football field on October 19, something was a bit different – instead of high school athletes, teachers donned jerseys and hit the gridiron.

Although Dartmouth High’s team – made up of teachers, principals, and faculty from across the district – faced a 28-12 loss to the Bears, each school’s after prom committee were the real winners, as the flag football game was hosted to raise funds for the program.

The flag football game was the idea of New Bedford Voc-Tech’s Jen Gaspar. She said the school has used a flag football game to fundraise for the school’s after-prom committee since 2009. Originally pitting shop and academic teachers from the school against each other, Gaspar said they wanted to try something new this year.

The idea soon made its way to Maria Kelly, Jesse Grieve, and Jessica Lassey, co-chairs of this year’s Dartmouth High School After Prom Committee, who were quick to sign on board. They got the word out to faculty throughout the district, and formed a team from across schools in town.

Teachers and staff who joined the team came from all ages and experience levels, from rookies to accomplished high school athletes. Dartmouth High principal Ross Thibault, who once coached high school football himself, ended up on the field and coaching after the Bears showed strength in numbers.

“A lot of folks here haven’t run like this in years,” Thibault said. “They’re going to feel it tomorrow.”

Among the teachers participating was Rachelle Lemieux, who teaches math at the high school – as evidenced by her hand-made addition to her jersey – 31-4. She never thought she’d be passing a football with her fellow teachers, however.

“I thought it was crazy; I first said no way – I was afraid I’d pull a hamstring because I’m old – but here I am,” Lemieux said just before the game started.

Joshua Rodrigues, DeMello Elementary School’s instructional technology specialist, ended up picking up a touchdown for the Indians during the game. The Dartmouth High grad still remembers his after-prom experience, and wanted to help support the program.

“It’s really a great cause,” Rodrigues said.

Proceeds from the game were split between Dartmouth High and New Bedford Voc Tech’s after prom committees. After prom is held at the high school after the conclusion of the senior prom, and provides an all-night hang-out for students to have fun and avoid risky situations.

“It’s so important to provide a safe night and a safe place for our students to celebrate after prom,” Thibault said.

The After Prom Committee is planning more events to raise money for after prom festivities, including a golf tournament on April 27, which the committee is still looking for teams and hole sponsors for.