Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why I was away!

Many apologies for being AWOL from the blog at the beginning of the month.

I'm sure those of you with kids realize how crazy the end of the school year can be. The last day of school in our district was June 4th. We had your usual end of the year activites, concerts, whatnot. Multiply that by two kids. That week and the week leading up to it were INSANE.

Add to the mix that I "volunteered" (a.k.a. "was drafted") to help with Project Grad at the High School, and you see where this is going.

What's Project Grad? Project Grad is an after-graduation celebration designed to keep the kids out of trouble for one last night. Around here, it is held in the high school, goes from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 in the morning, consists of all kinds of activities, food, celebrating, and is put on by the parents on a strictly volunteer basis. It really is a big "To Do." (For my HS buddies, it's like the Gambol without the dancing, since here Prom is actually held in May.)

This year's theme was "Senior Road Trip." Parents created different destinations to which Seniors would want to take a road trip. We had:

New York, complete with a minivan where kids could play "Cash Cab" like the tv show.

Miami, with two spray-on tattoo artists doing their own rendition of "Miami Ink."

New Orleans, kitted out for Mardi Gras.

California, including Disney, Hollywood, and Graumann's Chinese Theater, with a courtyard where the kids could draw their handprints and sign their names in the "cement."

You see where we're going with this.

Guess who got to build Graumann's Chinese Theater?

I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

The finished product ended up being 15 feet tall, constructed of 2x2's, screws, yards of cardboard, caulk and paint. I designed the thing completely in my head, without benefit of knowing what the heck I was doing. I built it in my garage in sections, because the pieces needed to be transported in my van, and also because my garage isn't 15 feet high! I created "cradles" out of wood for multiple sections of the towers to sit in so they could be easily dismantled. I made a bas relief dragon out of a 5 foot tall cardboard box and caulk. AND I probably lost four pounds of water weight since the temperature decided to be in the 90's with high humidity!

Obviously, the whole thing was a prime example of biting off more than I could chew. Dear Dan kept offering to help, but when you don't have any idea what goes where and what you're doing next, it's hard to direct other people, you know? If I had had blueprints or some sort of directions, I could have handed him page 2 and let him go from there. But since I was making it all up as I went along, that wasn't possible.

Our friend Scott called it a "design build." I think that hit the nail on the head.

Anyway, I was building in my garage for the better part of a week, and then all the parents had to come to the high school as soon as school was out in order to decorate. Some of the displays that people had made needed days and days to assemble!

Parents were in the school from about 3:00 pm on Wednesday and worked almost continuously until Saturday afternoon. My friend Mary, the head of the decorating committee, was only getting four or five hours of sleep per night and spent the rest of the time at the school. Whew!

Here's a photo of my finished product:

The lamp-posts are over 7 feet tall, if that gives you any perspective.

The dragon was made with caulk, and then I rag painted the whole thing with paint that had actual bronze chips in it to make it look like hammered metal.

I started the cement autographs in order to encourage the students to do something similar. Look who I picked to do! :)

Just for yucks, here's the real one (although I believe this is at Disney's MGM Studios in Orlando):

Anyway, after all was said and done, Project Grad looked wonderful. It also had its best attendance in years -- out of 500-something seniors, more than 300 were there. That says alot!


I won't be doing it again. Ever. Not kidding. :)


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