TIMMINS, ON: In October of 2019, Northern College and Algoma University held their first-annual Haunted Trail event at Northern’s Timmins Campus, featuring frightful scenes both indoors and outdoors along a trail system that resulted in a truly haunting reaction from the community.
Managing to scare up just shy of $20,000 in proceeds, the event, which was held on two nights for a total of 5 hours, had 140 volunteers participate with an impressive number of attendees.
3,500 visitors in total allowed the College to support local education-based initiatives and create 21 new entrance scholarships for students from participating local high schools who planned to attend Northern College this Fall.
Due to the potential risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, both Northern College and Algoma University have decided to postpone the event until 2021.
“There are simply too many factors at play to create a fun, and above all, safe event,” stated Nicole Gingras, organizer of the inaugural Haunted Trail event and Northern College’s Alumni and Foundations Officer. “We really wanted to make this work for this year, so we consulted with community stakeholders as well as our local Health Unit. In the end, with everything changing as much as it has been, it became apparent that this just isn’t the right time to bring this event back.”
The Haunted Trail relies heavily on the talent, expertise and creativity of local high school students and staff to prepare for the large event. Four local secondary schools, O’Gorman High School, Ecole Secondaire Catholique Theriault, Ecole Publique Renaissance and Roland Michener Secondary School, all took the time to create unique and truly terrifying experiences last year by creating a series of frightful displays along the trail route for two nights which they then hosted in person for maximum impact.
Graduates of those high schools who won the entrance scholarships have begun studying at Northern and are enrolled in a wide array of Northern College programs, including Welding Engineering Technology, Mechanical Technician – Welder Fitter, Motive Power Technician – Automotive Service, BScN, Electrical Engineering Technology, and Social Service Worker.
“This was truly a community event, and without the students and many volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to create the unique experience. Without the community attending as they did and supporting us, we could not have raised the funds to help make a post-secondary education more accessible to local students,” stated Gingras. “They say it takes a village to raise a child and I think the same is true when it comes to education. Without the generosity of this community, an education at Northern may not have been tangible for some of the award recipients.”
Although the Timmins Campus won’t be offering a fun and friendly way to terrify loved ones this Halloween, the success of the original event is still being felt by the recipients of the 21 entrance scholarships the event created.
”As a Haunted Trail scholarship recipient, I was very fortunate to have been able to participate in the event; it was a unique opportunity for community involvement. The money received was very much appreciated as it went directly towards my tuition,” stated Sophie Desjardins, a BScN student at Northern and one of the Haunted Trail scholarship recipients.
“Covid-19 has reshaped many of our lives,” shared Emilene Dumoulin, Student Services Coordinator at Algoma U Timmins who assisted with last year’s event. “We are hopeful that the safety concerns that were anticipated will have subsided by the same time next year and that we can get busy recreating and reinventing this impactful experience for 2021.”
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