How Enthusiasm is the Key to Make a Difference: The Story of our High School Prom

Starting this blog reminds me of my adventures back in high school. I was a student representative and did my best to put my energetic contribution to the school board.

During my Junior year, I had an opportunity to do an exchange semester in California. Unfortunately, I did not stay long enough to have the occasion to go to the prom with a handsome American. So when I came back and became student representative a year later, I decided it was time to start a prom in my own high school.

When you start a new project, you will always have two types of reactions: “That won’t work!’ or “Go for it!” I was already way too stubborn to listen to people telling me what not to do – especially if I had already planed it from alpha to omega in my mind with possible plan Bs.

The school board thought it was a good idea and was ready to support financially. We were a public school with no gigantic resources – but we had an Armenian girl at the head of the project! In the Armenian genes, partying is not a matter of money but of how enthusiastic people are.

When you start something totally new, the most common phrase you hear is: “This is too risky!” My obstinacy is the best tool I have not to listen to people who never take any risk in their lives. We can assess risk – a good part of it at least. For this mission you need a good team of the most motivated people on your boat who are ready to go through the fiercest storms. I had the school board, including Mister-Director, and all my friends who were American TV-series’ fans.

Something I learnt back then is that the number of “go for it” people diminishes greatly. Count 1 out of 4 people who will be there on d-day to help you set the whole thing up. The others will be too busy making their hair and showering with their cologne. Still, I had great friends around me to help! Sometimes it is better to be less people – controlling becomes much easier. The key is to have a plan and to motivate your troop.

My fundraising campaign took several months. I went from class to class to explain the project to seniors students. The entry cost was only 2euros per person. During breaks, I would go through the hallways and collect the fee students promised to pay. The day before the prom, there were six to eight students who thought that mandatory meant optional and hence did not pay their dues. As I had to keep an accounting book for the school board, I paid the difference myself and checked the debtors names.

With the tiny budget I had, I went to buy all the drinks with my Dad. As usual, he did not believe in my abilities, but as always, I surprised him – 10 years later, it is the same story. Then, I also bought a huge white sheet and cans of paint for the banner. For many days, my Mom was holding in what she wanted to cry out loud because I had transformed our living-room into a painting warehouse.

All that I can remember from our gala ball, is that students came and enjoyed it. I received a lot of compliments for the work but I could not have done it alone. I had great friends to help. It was far from being perfect but we did what we could.

I wanted to make a difference with my position and I did it. Since that year, future-graduating students have had their farewell party. This evening was a great closing chapter to my high school adventures book.

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A Good Life

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