I don’t know who thought up After Prom, but as a parent, I’m 100% behind this event. It’s a safe event that the kids can attend right after the Prom dance is over instead of going out driving around, doing not so intelligent things that get them into trouble. If you are the parent of a teenage kid aged 16-18 you can use your imagination to know what I’m talking about. If your imagination doesn’t stretch that far, just remember back to when you were that age – there, I knew you would get the picture. I personally did not want the police/neighbors/other authority figure, at my door at 2 or 3 in the morning telling me that my kid had done something dumb, so I decided to volunteer my time starting my son’s junior year of high school.
This event gives adults the excuse to do arts and crafts on a grand scale without having people think they’ve gone round the bend (I’m sure there are people who make that circling motion at the side of their heads when referring to a member of our group, but please let us live with our delusion). The first year I did this the theme was Wild, Wild West, and I got to make huge cardboard cowboy boots that had holes punched along the edges so that Christmas lights could be inserted. I have to say that they looked pretty cool lit up, standing sentry at the entrance to the school. Being of a not quite sound, but creative mind, I was hooked.
The next year I bit off one of the most ambitious creative pieces I could chew. The theme was Pirates of the Caribbean. I was given the entry hallway so I thought, “why not make the biggest impact I can?” I created a cave, a big, hallway size cave. It consisted of crumpled black paper over the walls and lockers with papier mâché stalactites, stalagmites and rock out cropping (unfortunately, Cap’n Jack could not join us that evening L). It was a huge hit, this fed my creative ego even more, and the fact that the kids absolutely loved it was even better. This is how I got stuck (uh, lucky) doing the entry hallway for the last nine years. Since then, we have done a cruise theme, James Bond theme, Super Hero Theme (I did another cave for this one)and a Racing/Sports Theme to name a few.
We use a multitude of things for decoration (papier mâché, Styrofoam, cardboard, foam core board, etc.), and have had to become a little more creative each year. One thing that has changed from when I started is that we can no longer use as much paper as we have in the past. We still use a lot but there are stricter fire laws surrounding the use of paper. We can still use it to cover things like lockers (let’s face it, lockers are ugly and what kid wants to be reminded he’s at the school when he’s trying to have a good time?). However, I cannot get away with the amount of paper I used creating an entire cave.
One question we always get, every year, without fail is, “How do you come up with the theme?” Here is the answer. The theme for the next year usually comes to us sometime within the two weeks leading up to the current years After Prom and usually make itself fully known the day of set up for the actual event. For me, it feels as if the idea hits while you are standing on your head, and looking through rose colored glasses at the same time. I believe it is because you are so numb with the process of getting ready and setting up for the event at hand. It sounds like a good idea while you are in the throes of setting up for the current party, but then when you’re at the same point the next year, you wonder what the heck you were thinking! It’s a circle, and it makes for some schizophrenic thinking. Now you are saying to yourself, “they set up for this year’s event; get an epiphany while doing that about the next year’s event, which would make this pretty much a year round thing.” Yep, you would be right about that. Those of us, who are diehard, tend to have it creep into our thoughts all year. However, the real nitty gritty planning happens from about January to the event in April (or May depending on your schools scheduling). If you do fundraising, things may start ramping up around October.
In this blog series, I will talk about the different things you have to think about when preparing for a large event like this, but mostly, I will talk about the fun, creative part; the planning, design, and creation of our school transformation. My next piece will be about the planning and design of the theme. I know this event sounds like a lot of work, and maybe not so much fun. You are right about the work, but it is fun, and when you see the kids having so much fun, playing games, winning prizes, eating food, and just being kids, it is extremely rewarding.
See you next Friday!