The planners will be just as surprised as the public when it is unveiled.
Nota Bene, Raritan Valley Community College’s annual celebration of student writing and art, is the culmination of a year-long effort by the Event Management and Planning class. But rather than build on accomplishments from past Nota Bene's, every year students from the class start from scratch and learn the hard way what it takes to be an event planner.
“The event planning world is not as glamorous as people think,” Diti Patel, a student in the class, said. “You have to go through a lot of hoops just to make someone happy. If you like your sleep, it is not for you.“
Eighteen students, all female, make up the class. Each of them works in one of four groups: Public Relations/Marketing gets the word out, Budgeting/Fundraising comes keeps track of which group needs money and how much they use, Food & Beverage/Decor creates the menu and matches the décor with the theme and Logistics is who the other groups report with to makes sure everything runs smoothly.
The class had about 6 weeks to plan Nota Bene, which includes some missed classes due to snow. Courtney Kahlsdorf, who works in Public Relations, said time was the biggest challenge in planning, which forced the class to rush to figure out the theme of the event. “We aren’t even allowed to know what was done last year. What theme they used and what ideas they had, we aren’t allowed to know, so it truly is our event.”
The class settled on The Great Gatsby as the theme, which is coincidentally the same theme for Student Life Activities & Planning (SLAP) Board spring picnic in the same week.
Sarah Beth Schupner, who works in Budgeting, said sticking to the theme taught her how to work within a tight budget. “It’s difficult to find décor for the event that falls into our theme of The Great Gatsby on our budget. Often times something is found that would be great for the event, but it isn’t in the budget, so allocating our resources is the hardest part.”
Patel, who works in Logistics, said the class as a whole taught her not just skills of the trade, but life lessons. “Christy Lamagna, [professor of the class] taught by sharing her experiences and her success in hopes that it will inspire us to achieve whatever we set our minds to.”
The purpose of Nota Bene is to highlight the academic and artistic achievements of RVCC’s students in one setting, on one day. “It is a great way for people to be noticed outside of the classroom,” says Kelly Grant, who works in Public Relations. “You could see an award-winning essay written by a student in one of your classes and you would have never known…It’s a great way for students to break the community college stigma and prove that respectable work can come from the student body.”
"The evening is designed not only to celebrate those who have won, but also to inspire other students to find their inner muse and produce their own noteworthy work," Lamagna said.
Nota Bene is derived from the Latin word meaning "noteworthy" and will be held on Tuesday, April 28. Student work will be on display during the College Hour from 1:00-2:20 and from 6:30-830 in the Grand Conference Center. The evening portion will include food, beverages, an awards presentation and a “Tricky Tray” raffle where guests will have a chance to take home a gift basket prepared by Starbucks.
The class received a $2,000 grant from the college, and classes from previous years donated $1,700. Students fundraise for the rest. An event planning certificate is given upon completion of the Event Planning & Management class.
Featured image caption:
Nota Bene event planners Kelly Grant (left) and Jamie Storm (right) with the winner of a raffle, Amanda Ahmed, a prospective student at RVCC.