Spectrum Sleep Out May See Change in Venue


Students camp outside during the second annual Spectrum Sleep Out. Francesca Dupuis, organizer of the event, says it may happen inside this year. | Photo: Spectrum

Update Feb 24, 2017: The Spectrum Sleep Out will now be taking place outside on school grounds, Principal Racicot announced on Friday afternoon. The decision was made after a meeting with administration, Ms. Dupuis, and Spectrum staff. Spectrum staff will be onsite, assisting with the event.

Major changes may be happening to the Spectrum Sleep Out this year due to concerns from administration. The BHS Sleep Out typically involves students camping on Buck Hard Field in late March to raise awareness and funds for youth homelessness and Spectrum. On Tuesday, BHS students were told that the event may now be held in the school gym.

History teacher Francesca Dupuis is charged with organizing the event for the third year in a row. She has been working to find an alternative location after she was told by school officials that the Sleep Out poses a “tremendous liability.”

Tracy Racicot, Principal of BHS, plans to meet with Dupuis and Spectrum on Friday. Until then she had no comment on the change in venue, but pointed out that there has been an increase in students, and a decrease in adults willing to chaperone.

None of the BHS administration team are available to supervise the event, so former BHS Principal Amy Mellencamp will return to chaperone.

Still, Dupuis is unhappy with the response from administration.

“I was frustrated with the answer I was given,” Dupuis said. “I want to know why it is more of a liability this year than last.”

Spectrum Youth and Family Services provides mentoring, housing, and skills training to over 2,000 Vermont young adults. They rely on over 400 students from schools and communities around the county to raise over $265,000.  Last year, BHS hosted 93 students and raised over $16,000.

On Tuesday, Dupuis hosted a meeting to plan for the Sleep Out, where she broke the news of the change in Venue. Over 100 students attended. Senior Sam Hayes, two time Sleep Out participant, was one of those students.

“Forcing the event to be inside defeats the purpose of it,” said Hayes

For now, the event will be held in the gym, but Dupuis said she will be working with Spectrum and Administration to keep the event outside.

“The purpose of the sleepout is to challenge students for a small moment in their life,” Dupuis said. “[If you’re sleeping inside] you’re not facing the elements. You’re still protected from the snow and rain.”