Senior All Night Party (SANP) Introduction and Notes|
Northville Michigan High School
by Clay Harrell.
What is a 'Senior All Night Party'?
This way the party environment could be controlled. No one could leave and re-enter, and security would make sure no drugs or alcohol could be brought into the school. This would keep the kids safe for one last time - Really the last time the entire high school senior class would be together as a unit.
Attendance for this party is very high. Of a class of about 450 kids, about 400 attend. That's about a 90% attendance rate. So for the most part, the kids won't be on the streets partying, causing trouble, and won't be drinking and driving.
I had NO idea that other area SANPs were using this web page!
What Can YOU Do to HELP?
Northville is a rich suburb. But that doesn't mean you have to act that way, and hire-out all the work for this last-hooray. Yea sure, it's easy to just "cut a check" to Rock Financial and hire out everything there. But your kids won't remember that. THEY WILL remember something that YOU DID for them, like all the decorations and games at their High School's Senior All-Night Party. The kids WILL appreciate the efforts YOU do in the decorations. They may not give it a huge notice, but they do notice. So as a parent, get involved. The cost is some time, but it's for YOUR KID.
What is the Purpose of this Web Page?
I also wanted a place to put pictures of the Northville SANP. No one seems to document this work, and it really should be archived. The amount of work involved for the decorations is incredible, and from year to year, largely forgotten after the party is over.
I provided 15+ coin-operated games (all set on free-play) for the SANP party (pinballs, chexx hockey, gun games, slot machines for the casino, bowling machines, etc.) I also provided A LOT of technical support and tools for the decoration construction. And my wife did the FREE coffee bar (didn't charge anyone anything, not the kids or SANP.) To give an idea on how valuable this service is, I have had several other high schools try and hire me to do the games for their schools' SANP (to date I have turned these offers down.)
These are the games I have bought and fixed for the SANP project.
I store and repair these at the drug store, and move them to the SANP party.
This is provided (of course) free of charge, and the game are operated
at the SANP party on free-play (no money needed to play). And YES that's
a 17 foot long ball bowler and a 10 foot long skee-ball machine, in addition
to various other arcade games, slot machines, and pinballs (Star Wars, Terminator3,
Simpsons, Lord of the Rings, etc.)
When the games are broken down they take up an area of about 10'x20'.
This shows the layout of the Northville High School. The area in blue
is the "Main Street" hallway, and that's what get decorated. I propose
the area in Red be the "arcade game" area, where I place the above
Who is Involved with the Northville SANP?|
The people involved change every year, because the people that attend the SANP (the graduating Seniors) change every year. This creates a continuity problem. That is, the lessons learned from year to year are largely forgotten.
The way it works is like this: the Senior class elects a Senior Class President. By default, the parents of this class president become the chairs of SANP. For Northville 2007, this created a problem. The original elected 2007 class president was forced (by his parents) to turn back his elected position! Why? Simple, his parents didn't want to do the work involved to make the Senior All Night Party (SANP) happen. Unfortunately, this was an indicator of things to come, as the 2007 SANP started out on a bad foot.
Having the senior class president's parents as head of SANP is generally a major mistake. The type of parents needed to run this party are people that understand FUN. Generally the class president's parents are, well, probably not the best candidates for this job. They tend to miss the whole concept of FUN and often forget WHO THE CLIENT IS (the kids!) The parents tend to be more concerned with themselves, and what they want, instead of remember this is about the KIDS and putting on a good-time party. Just something to keep in mind. (I'll say this a few times, because again, this point gets missed a lot.) It would be a far better approach to pick a set of parents that WANT to be head of SANP, opposed to just forcing the (kid class elected) Senior Class president's parents as the SANP heads. Think about that for a second, does it make any sense? It's almost a formula for disaster, putting people in charge of your kid's last High school function, where they really don't want the job (and frankly don't usually do a very good effort).
Anyway, the first meetings for SANP start usually about October/November of the school year. For 2007, the start was hampered by the above. And the new chairs that eventually took the SANP job were not as enthusiastic about their new position (compared to the 2006 Northville class).
Because of this, the whole SANP 2007 didn't really get rolling until well after January 2007. Compared to the prior year, this was a very late start. The 2006 SANP parents were well on their way to planning and creating the party by January (unlike the 2007 class). I hope the 2008 SANP people can get it together better than the 2007 SANP organizers.
What is My Involvement with SANP?
I provide games, at no charge, to the SANP party. What kind of games? Unique coin-operated games. Like pinball machines, Ms.Pacman video games, slot machines (for the casino), bowling games (yes an actual 17 foot long bowling alley and 10 foot skee-ball), rifle games, chexx hockey (bubble hockey), and other novelty type coin-op games. All coin-operated COMMERCIAL GRADE equipment, set to FREE PLAY. In the last two years, I provided 15+ games for each of the two SANP parties at absolutely NO cost to SANP. If SANP hired out for the games, I would say it would cost them in the neighborhood of $5000 for the game party rentals, for the level of service and number of games I provide. In addition, my wife ran a Cappuccino Coffee bar at the SANP party (2007 was her first year), again at NO cost to SANP (the cost to hire-out that job is about $1500).
In return, the SANP provides me a place to store and work on my games for the year. This way I have a place to prepare them for the party. And a place that I can go and make a mess working on games without my wife yelling at me that she can't get her car in the garage! So it's a win-win situation for both me and SANP. I'm happy with the arrangement (well, kind of happy, depending on the personalities involved, which changes from year-to-year).
For example, the 2006 class and Karen Polis were great. They were extremely supportive of my efforts, and integrated my games into their SANP decorations. This made the play environment for the kids great. The 2007 class was not as supportive. In fact initially the chairs of 2007 SANP tried to push me to pay them for storing my games (which they used for their SANP) at their facility. Frankly I was shocked and floored, since I put A LOT of work and money into this project. Ultimately I didn't have to pay them, but the fact that they demanded that really set a bad mood for the whole thing. But after it was all over, the head of SANP personally thanked me for the job I did.
What Makes a Good SANP?
But theme aside, the paramount things is to have plenty to do for the kids at the SANP. The key is INVOLVMENT and INTERACTIVE DESIGN. This point is often missed, especially by the decorations committee. In the 2007 Bond SANP, this point was missed more than it should have been.
At the Northville 2006 SANP, this was done right (largely because of two people, Dave Laabs and Karen Paulos). For example, in the Wild West area, there was a gold mine. The gold mine was constructed using a sump pump to move water down a "river" (trough) and into a kiddie poll. Mud was put in the kiddie poll. Gravel was purchased and dried, and then spray painted gold. This was mixed with regular gravel and put in the kiddie pool. The kids would use pans and 'mine' for the gold gravel. Then they would take the gold to the Wild West's General Store, where it was weighed. In exchange they would get game tokens. Now they could go to the Casino and either turn the tokens in for raffle ticket(s), or they could gamble the tokens in the slot machines! This whole process took some kid time and some fun kid work. That's the idea - keep the kids moving and having fun, accomplishing some goofy tasks.
At the 2007 Bond SANP, this point was nearly missed. Just ONE person (Jeff Holler) in the decorations committee had a plan for interactive design. He had been to a James Bond themed restaurant in Milwaukee, and implemented some of their ideas into the 2007 SANP decoration design. What he did was pure genius, and if it was not for his efforts (in my opinion), the 2007 Bond SANP would have totally missed a great opportunity. There was also John Sprader, who did a considerable amount of work (that needs to be acknowledged and THANKED), but he largely missed the whole interactive design idea. John Sprader did a great job, and did an incredible amount of work, but he needed to put himself into the kid's shoes a bit more, and understand the importance of interactive design in a Senior All Night party.
Thanks to Jeff, for 2007, when the kids came into the school for the party, he took groups of 10 to 20 kids into a waiting room called "Universal Exports", aka Univex. (He designed this room a bit like the waiting room at Disney Land's Haunted House.) He introduced the kids to the Bond theme, and explained that they had to solve some basic clues inside the room. This would expose a hidden door, allowing them access to Moneypenny's office. The hidden door had an electric latch system, accessible by pressing one of the wall panels (I designed and implemented the electrics). The kids needed to find this switch to advance. He also had a hidden cam taking movies, which he would later burn to DVD. Once inside Moneypenny's office the kids were checked in and free to go to the rest of the party facilities.
Talking to the kids inside the party, they all commented how cool the electric hidden door was, and what they had to go through to find it. Jeff only had about 2 to 3 minutes with a group of 10 to 20 kids. But he made that short time one of the kid's most memorable moments of the party. This is what they talked about and what they will remember. All the non-interactive decorations they just walked by, *maybe* noticing for all of one second.
What Facilities or Events are at SANP?
Decorations at SANP - Make it Interactive.
The key to remember when designing the decorations is INTERACTIVE DESIGN. Static displays are little more than wallpaper. The kids look once for a few seconds, if they notice at all. This was a major problem at the 2007 Northville SANP party. For example, Q's Lab could have been made much more interactive. This was a lost opportunity. In fact all the decorations past Moneypenny's office were static. Almost a waste of time, as the kids just don't notice. In today's Nintendo age, the decorations have to do something or somehow be interactive to get their attention. The kids won't stop to read static displays, or to notice small details. They are all about partying, and unless the display does something, they just walk right by.
Another idea I had for decorations, which was not implemented in either 2006 or 2007, was to use actors. That is, parents dressed up, and willing to "play a part". For example, mad scientists inside Q's Lab. They could rope the kids into doing some silly stuff, or helping with some goofy science experiment gone bad. In the 2006 SANP party, I had the idea of having a good/bad guy fight inside the Wild Wild West section. That is, two actors, one dressed in white, the other in black. And they would spend the night basically fighting each other (cap guns, fake blood, fake punches, rope fights, etc.) This is much in the style of what you would see on the Las Vegas strip in front of the Treasure Island hotel, where they have a pirate battle. Also having some of the parents dress up as western drunk bums or party girls or gamblers would have been a good gag too - they could interact with the students playing their parts. The problem is finding parents willing to play these parts - it's not easy work, and you have to have the right sense of humor.
CoffeeCatHQ.com doing her thing at SANP2007. She provides hot and cold custom-made coffee drinks
(lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc.) for the kids at no charge.
Other Interactive Decoration Ideas.|
I can't stress this enough - INTERACTIVE DESIGN. The decorations need to be interactive. This makes a huge difference. The interactive design could be simple or complex. For example, the 2006 SANP decorations were very interactive, but complex (making they hard to construct, set up, and tear down). The 2007 SANP decorations were non-interactive and simple (a much easier workload, but provided little impact). A mid-point between these two approaches is a better plan.
A good mix that keeps things easy is to implement the pinball and arcade games into the hall decorations. This keeps the parents from going nuts trying to design and build interactive displays. They can basically do the "wallpaper" approach, and allow the games to be the interactive part. Unfortunately in 2007 this concept was largely lost, as the games were not implemented into most of the hallway designs. Putting the games in the Casino is not a good idea. Keep the Casino with a gambling theme, and don't try and mix the arcade games into that theme. The games work much better in the hallway designs. The Northville hallway has a different 'feel', and is more social than the casino. And the games make the hallway an even better social and interactive environment.
Get a Static Project Leader.
The other problem is the storage of the prior year(s) decorations. Again without a project manager that did it the year before, A LOT of unnecessary work is replicated year to year. I saw it happen in 2007 in a big way, where designs for decoration panels were re-done because they didn't understand how it could have been recycled from the prior year. Also nothing ever gets thrown out. You would think this is a good thing, but unfortunately the wrong things seem to get saved. In the drug store, where all the decorations are stored, there were many years of "crap" piled up. John went through this stuff this year, and threw out MANY dumpster loads worth of junk. This made the storage area (drug store) much more manageable and easier for people to work on this year's decorations. But I kind of doubt that initiative will be taken again in the future (John and I loaded up his van many times with old useless displays, and he hauled them to his work and unloaded the trash into dumpsters there, since there is no garbage collection at the drug store.)