By Seth Coleman
Zombies invaded the campus of Maynard H. Jackson High School last weekend. But there was no need to call “Rick Grimes” from “The Walking Dead,” as it was all for a great cause.
The Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse was a two-day, unique fundraising event created by famed local makeup artist Shane Morton and coordinated by Red Robin Realtors, Eventide Brewery and the Jackson PTSA. Morton and his partners took volunteers – many of whom were Jackson students – and made them up to look like “the walking dead.” The “zombies” were the main attraction in a dark, creepy gauntlet Morton and his crew set up next to the school.
Those who dared paid $10 to enter the zombie zone, with all proceeds going to the Jackson PTSA.
“We wanted to have something that would create a buy-in from the community, something for everyone to participate in,” said Krish Dhokia, marketing director for Red Robin Realtors, one of Jackson’s community partners. “We approached Shane [Morton] and he was happy to get involved.”
In fact, along with changing students and volunteers into zombies, Morton began teaching students how to do the makeup themselves.
“It gives students more options for after graduation,” Dhokia said. “With all of the movie and television show production that is blowing up here in Atlanta now, there are more opportunities for doing things behind the camera. It’s another way of doing something for the kids.”
Jackson PTSA Vice President of Fundraising Natalie Rosbottom said about 700 people visited on Friday and a steady stream of brave souls flocked into the exhibit on Saturday evening as well – including Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.
Rosbottom said high school seniors were admitted free of charge on Friday but the number of patrons far exceeded her expectations. Students from North Atlanta and Grady High Schools visited the Zombie Apocalypse, as did students from McNair High School in DeKalb County.
“This is our big fundraiser for the year, and so we’re very pleased that it’s going so well,” said Rosbottom, who has a freshman and a senior student enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at Jackson. “Red Robin approached us and the students really took charge with leading the effort. They are earning volunteer credit hours and having a good time.”
Rosbottom said the money collected will go toward a mini-grant fund for teachers. Last year, teachers in the school’s drama department used mini-grant funds to purchase risers for the stage in the auditorium.
“We wanted to have a large-scale fundraiser that was unique and would reach the broader community,” said Rosbottom, who noted that a new mixed-use development right next to the school is in the works. It will feature townhomes, a Kroger grocery store, a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, and a Starbucks coffee shop.
“There are so many great things happening in our community,” Rosbottom said.