Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

LHS senior party gets new venue

Operation Graduation moving to Dave & Buster’s in 2007

January 18, 2007

Lansing High School seniors who travel to the Legends shopping center to partake in shopping and movies soon will have another draw luring them to the entertainment complex - Operation Graduation.

The annual post-graduation party, which is given by the parents of LHS seniors, will take place at Dave & Buster's in Kansas City, Kan.

The restaurant chain mixes food and amusement by offering more than 200 arcade-style games to its patrons.

Operation Graduation festivities will kick off there the evening of graduation - Saturday, May 19 - and last into the wee hours of Sunday, May 20.

Chris Cristiano, a member of the executive committee planning the graduation celebration, said the event's purpose has remained constant throughout its history.

"Our mission is to provide a safe drug- and alcohol-free environment for the kids to have a fun, safe night," she said. Food, entertainment and prizes for all graduating seniors will be provided for free again this year.

Past events have been held at Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth and most recently at Harney Sports Complex at Fort Leavenworth.

Cristiano said Dave & Buster's sent a letter to LHS in the fall touting a full menu of games, entertainment and food options.

Cristiano said the senior class decided on Dave & Buster's during a class vote in the fall.

She emphasized the change in venue was not meant to "take away" from previous Operation Graduation events, which LHS parents have played host to for at least a decade.

"It's just something different the kids haven't done and there's a multitude of things for them to do. I think it will be a nice change. It's a party environment," Cristiano said.

And having the party at Dave & Buster's, she said, would lighten the workload for parent volunteers because the restaurant provides the refreshments, cleanup detail and "exciting" surroundings that won't require a lot of party decorations.

Cristiano said busing will be provided to and from the Legends after several parents voiced concerns about sleepy students driving home when the event ends at 5 a.m.

Some parents also have complained that the event will take place in a venue that serves alcohol.

Angie Grady, parent of an LHS senior, said she shared those concerns and more.

Grady said the senior class voted on the venue before she and other parents learned Dave & Buster's was an option.

In addition, Grady said, taking the event to a shopping center that draws patrons away from Leavenworth County is "offensive" to local business owners because the event depends on donations from them for funding and prizes.

"I want the kids to be able to have fun and all that, but those things really bothered me," Grady said.

Pam Burton, special events manager at Dave & Buster's in Kansas City, said the company has played host to post-graduation and after-prom parties since 1982. Burton said Bonner Springs High School held a successful post-graduation party last year at the Kansas City location.

Burton said employees ask patrons to show identification at the door and when they order alcoholic drinks.

While the starting time has yet to be determined, Burton said, preliminary plans call for LHS students to rent a private room while the establishment remains open to the general public until 2 a.m.

"It's a private room and there's no alcohol in the room," she said.

After the restaurant closes and until 5 a.m., LHS students will have access to the midway, where they can play an unlimited amount of games at no additional cost.

Burton said LHS volunteers would still have to chaperone the event by having one adult present for every 20 students. The senior class numbers 167.

Kansas City police officers regularly monitor guests as they come and go on Fridays and Saturday nights for added security, she said.

Committee raising funds for party

Planning a $15,000 party requires a bevy of decisions to be made about refreshments, location and entertainment. And in the midst of the planning there's the fundraising that makes it all possible.

Becky Courtney, a member of the executive committee planning the Operation Graduation party for Lansing High School's 2007 graduates, said nearly $10,000 has been raised for this year's festivities.

"We seem to be pretty much on track," Courtney said. The committee's goal is to raise $15,000.

Those funds pay for venue rental fees, refreshments, and entertainment for all LHS seniors who attend. There also will be drawings for big-ticket items such as bicycles, televisions and microwaves.

The bulk of the money raised so far has come from the group's annual calendar drawing, Courtney said.

Parent volunteers sold tickets for $10 each. One ticket-holder was chosen for each day in December with cash prices ranging from $25 to $200.

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