NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Those with keen eyes may have noticed some peculiar groupings popping up in yards around town the past few weeks: pink lawn flamingos, accompanied by a sign that says “You’ve Been Flocked.” It’s called flocking, and it’s the newest fundraising effort by the North Kingstown High School Class Council to support the senior class while also spreading some cheer during a tough time.
“We got the idea from Rogers High School in Newport because they’ve been doing this fundraiser for a little bit now and because we didn’t have homecoming, we lost a big source of our income which would help pay for prom and other activities,” North Kingstown High School junior Nina Garcia, who co-organized flocking with fellow junior Emily Baierlein.
Her mom, NKHS math teacher Lisa Garcia, has also helped with the effort, says it also came from a place of encouraging safe and fun student connectivity in a year of distance learning and staggered schedules.
“We were also looking to heighten school engagement for the kids,” Lisa Garcia said. “They are really disconnected and we’re hoping to just give them something to let them know that they’re part of our school fabric and that they can connect with each other, they can follow each other on Instagram and engage in school activities.”
How flocking works is that a senior is nominated by a friend to be flocked, then the Class Council goes out at night and “flocks” multiple seniors houses by placing the flamingos and signs in their yard, along with an envelope containing instructions on what to do next and for parents to send in a donation check to the Class Council, while the student can send in a picture of the their flock to the Instagram page ran by Nina Garcia and Baierlein, @NKHSFlocking. Once the donation is sent, seniors can nominate three other seniors to be flocked next and the process continues.
“Students can send in pictures and we post them and their friends comment and then parents can also (Direct Message) us questions and it’s just like an easy way to connect and also the underclassmen get to see what’s going on too, so if they decide to continue this in future years, it’s a good way to get everyone involved,” Nina Garcia said.
The amount is not set, as to be inclusive to all students and families, and those seniors who want to opt out can do so via a Google Doc in the bio of the Instagram page.
“The money is appreciated but we also want to make the seniors smile and give them just that moment in the sun,” Lisa Garcia said.
With many of the milestone social events of senior year canceled yet again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s put a strain on the Class Council’s budget for any potential events they may be able to put on later in the spring.
“Events that we would normally would have in the school year like variety show, homecoming dance, all the ways that we raise money, even games, we’re just not having those social activities, so this is going to go to the Class Council and help to build their funds for, fingers crossed, their future events and we’re hoping that we can have some events for seniors this spring and maybe some events for our juniors in the spring, like some of the milestone events,” Lisa Garcia said. “We’re not really sure what that looks like, but we’re hoping to do something for them.”
The first flock was done at the high school itself on Jan. 22, and due to the positive feedback and enjoyment it got among students, the Class Council flocked their first house on Jan. 30 and since then, flocking has continued to grow, with the Class Council receiving additional pink flamingos to expand their mission to get every interested senior by the end of the school year, while also so far raising over $450 for the Class Council.
For both Garcias, however, it’s the bringing joy to seniors who have had so much of their traditional events stolen away from them by the pandemic that really makes it worth it.
“Well I know for me and the other students who have helped me with the flocking, it’s just meant to get out and a lot of us are friends with the upperclassman, so it’s nice to be able to do something for them especially during Covid because a lot of them are just feeling terrible about school, so it’s nice to do something for them and to have an excuse to get out of the house,” Nina Garcia said.
“When we drop off the flock, we don’t see (the seniors),” Lisa Garcia said. “We wish we could hide in the bushes and see their reactions, but we can’t. We try to go at night so they don’t see us so it’s not about us, it’s about the seniors and we do wish that we had a few films of what it looked like and we hope that we see that they’re smiling knowing that their classmates are thinking of them and want to do something nice for them, and the senior that nominated them is hoping to make them smile too.”
For more information on flocking and to keep up with the latest landings, check out their Instagram page, @NKHSFlocking.