There is a gap in funding for this year's GAPP.
The Standley Lake "Gators' After Prom Party" draws hundreds of the school's junior and senior prom partiers each year, but this year's festivities may be cancelled without a surge of community support.
"We lack money," GAPP volunteer chairwoman Moira Luebbert said immediately when asked about this year's preparations.
Standley Lake's prom, and after prom, are scheduled for Friday, April 7. Starting at 11 p.m., any Standley Lake junior or senior, along with their guest, are welcome to attend the after party, free of charge.
This year's after prom organizers are trying a new venue — Jump City at Wadsworth and Church Ranch Road, but to reserve that location the organizers need $5,000 within the next two weeks. The after prom's current Go Fund Me campaign page showed just shy of $2,400 in the bank, as of March 6.
Luebbert said the Go Fund Me campaign is asking for at least $8,000 to provide some of the prizes and decorations needed to make the party more appealing to the students.
According to 13-year school PTSA volunteer Cyndi Cremer, Standley Lake's after prom tradition may go back all the way to 1990. This year will mark the graduation of her fifth and youngest child, and also likely the last time she will dedicate herself to GAPP.
"I think it's a good event to try to keep kids in a safe and fun environment," Cremer said.
Safe and fun, are the two words that GAPP organizers focus on as they plan an event that draws more than 300 students each year, more than half of the high school's total junior and senior population.
"They have 364 days to go out and be rambunctious, but for some reason it's worse on prom night..." Luebbert said.
To offer an alternative, the group of volunteers from the high school's PTSA work for months ahead of time to plan and gather up community support to make the party a success. Thousands of dollars worth of gift cards, coupons, headphones, even laptops and headphones are purchased or donated as party prizes.
"It's the carrot we dangle in front of the kids to keep them there," said Luebbert.
The group has found that "the kids love cash" prizes as well. This year's party will include a cash booth, where they can play other games and activities to earn 10 more seconds in the booth, where dollar bills swirl around them for the grabbing. The school itself helps get in on the prize fun as well, with parking passes (more than $100 in value) and Gator sports apparel being donated.
Standley Lake Principal Jeff Pierson said the school, campus security and its school resource officer all partner with the PTSA to try and keep the evening safe.
"I believe offering an after prom for our students to be safe and to minimize possible poor decisions that can be made after a major event like the Jr/Sr Prom is invaluable to the community," Pierson said.
The new venue — Jump City — will allow party-goers to play trampoline dodge ball, as well as laser tag. A mechanical bull will be available to ride, along with the GAPP's more traditional activities, including a casino area, arts and crafts, karaoke and a movie room.
Last year, the GAPP group tried to bring the party back to the high school where it had been held before, but a lack of volunteers and the monumental task of transforming the familiar school halls into something party-esque burned out much of the group, Luebbert said. This year she said the rush to redesign the party has led to a fresh wave of volunteers, "which is wonderful."
"One of my goals this year is to create some more community with the parents that have stepped up," Luebbert said.
Kremer also said that a sense of continuity, with freshman and sophomore parents taking ownership of the GAPP is needed to keep the event going.
The night of the GAPP — according to Kremer — is always a marathon for the roughly 50 volunteers who help set up the party, running it, and then trying to stay on their feet till the end, at 2:30 a.m.
"It's very exhausting, but at the end of the night, and you're giving away those prizes, you really see that these kids are pleasantly surprised," she said. "It's most rewarding at the end of the night when the kids say thanks."