By: Terry Simpson
Remember when you were a kid and you would say, “I’m going to stay up all night long!” Did you ever make it? Seems like it got easier in the late teens and early 20-something years, but as middle age hits, a lot of us find it harder and harder to do.
Yet, several middle-aged folks managed to do it on Saturday, April 26, when they volunteered at the 4-H Project Prom, sponsored by the 4-H Teen Club.
To some, it was a struggle, but caffeine and keeping busy seemed to help. From local police officers playing basketball with Monroe County High School seniors and their dates to the Tompkinsville Jaycees running around passing out fake money to kids playing several different games, the night seemed to go by fairly quickly.
Project Prom is an annual event held each year following the prom.
MCHS Seniors and their dates are invited to attend the all-night, alcohol and drug-free event, from 12 a.m. through 5:30 a.m., at the Monroe County Resource Gymnasium, with an optional devotional held following the event.
The goal is to provide an evening of fun and safety, featuring games, crafts, music food and cash prizes.
According to organizers, it is always a huge success, with a large amount of the senior class in attendance.
This year, 68 students attended with each senior receiving $88 in cash at the end of the night, as well as $1,000s in cash and prizes given out throughout the night.
The event is organized by the Monroe County 4-H Teen Club, with the help of Monroe County Extension Agent and 4-H Youth Development Leaders Susan Turner and Charolette Arnett, the Tompkinsville Jaycees, the Tompkinsville Church of Christ, the Baptist Association and other organizations, with food provided by Pizza Hut, Grandview Market, and other volunteers, and is made possible by fundraisers held throughout the year.
The teens, who managed much better at staying awake, were spread throughout the gym, some eating at tables, some sitting in the bleachers in groups and a few scattered here and there along the walls with blankets and pillows.
Turner noted that anyone was welcome to sleep, but they would have more chances at earning prize money, the more they participated. Their “fake money” would be traded in toward chances at the drawings at the end of the evening.
Several students lined up, excited for the festivities to start. Those included a giant tic-tac-toe board, where two teams of students raced for spots on the board, darts, a pitch tournament, a paper airplane contest, a scavenger hunt using cellphones to provide pictures of the categories, a dance competition, a dizzy bat competition, a Family Feud game featuring questions about the senior class, a game where students had to bust the other teams balloons using pool noodles and an extreme dodge ball game.
Most of the students participated in several of the games. Their energy levels were much higher than the adults, as they laughed and seemed to have the time of their lives. Many not even realizing they were making some of their last memories with their classmates of 13 years.
And a few chose to take little cat naps, laughing and giggling with their friends just as they had in those sleepovers long ago when they vowed to stay up all night long.
Attendees piled up their blankets and pillows as they had forts in their younger years and snuggled up for the long night.
Whether they made it completely through the night, or woke up just in time to collect their prizes, it is a memory they will never forget.
The following morning the building quickly cleared as young and old alike made their way home to bed.
As the kids gathered up their things, they stopped to thank the adult volunteers whose eyes were starting to droop from sacrificing their sleep.
Turner smiled in appreciation and pride and said, “Don’t thank us, thank your fellow students, the 4-H Teen Club, who worked so hard all year raising money to make this happen.”