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Joe Battista: 'All Night After Prom Party' a Team Effort

by on May 24, 2012 6:28 AM

One of the great traditions in American culture is the high school senior prom and the "All Night After Prom Party," henceforth to be referred to as "ANAPP” as the acronym is quite appropriate.

With our middle child, Jonathon, participating this year, my wife, Heidi, and I eagerly answered the call for volunteers to help chaperone and work at the “ANAPP.”

Heidi was on the food committee under the expert guidance of Carla Rossi. I was on the Rita's Italian Ice Scooping Committee. Our motto – "scoop two, eat one."

Anyone who has ever volunteered for “ANAPP” knows how much effort goes into planning and executing all of the preparations to make the event memorable for the local students. My hat is off to the organizing committee and all the volunteers who helped make it a special night for a great group of State College High School students and guests.

I know I will forget to mention someone so I apologize in advance, but I do want to recognize the group of volunteers that I know best, including: Susan and Steve Sampsell,  Mitch and Rod Kirsch, Bob and Kelly Snyder, Tim and Michelle Holdcroft, Mauvette Malizia, Lisa Schroeder, Lyn Culver, Chip Mock, Karen Hughes, Carla Rossi, Jill Garrigan, Cassandra Ghinos, Joy Vincent-Killian, Patti Cochrane, Mary Andrew, Megan Holmes, Mary Beahm, Susan Matty, Jody Heckman, and Heidi.

My own prom experiences instantly conjure up somewhat embarrassing memories. My friends and our dates spent nights practicing line dances to the Bee Gees "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack.  I wore a funny powder blue crushed velvet tux with a shirt with frills and powder blue accents on it.  (Yeah, go ahead and laugh but I know some of you had the same forgettable outfits of that era and you know what I am talking about!). Throw in my 70's-style Afro complete with my pick-comb and I am Juan Epstein straight out of "Welcome Back Kotter," the popular sitcom of that era.

My buddies and I spent hours hand-washing our cars and detailing the tires and wire rim hub caps trying to outdo each other so we arrived in style. Without totally embarrassing my son, let's just say Dad “had his back” and made sure his ride was clean, waxed and polished. There are no Droid or iPhone apps or X-Box games that teach kids how to detail a car.

Prom is a rite of passage engrained in our culture, and for the vast majority of the students it will be a watershed moment as they prepare to transition to post high school challenges and opportunities. Once again it reminds me of why State College is such a great place to raise a family and a town that comes together to support its own. The “ANAPP” only works as well as the parents who get involved to support it with donations, prizes, and most importantly, their time.

Our own "ANAPP" duty actually started well before prom, as we helped solicit food, snacks, door prizes and Tim Hortons coffee for the kids to enjoy.

Heidi and I arrived at the Penn Stater by 11 p.m. under the guise of having to help transition the ballroom from prom to after prom. In full disclosure, we were really there so we could sneak a peak in on the actual prom and then watch all the kids strut their stuff down the corridor outside the President's Hall in a red carpet-like procession.

We spent the rest of the night scooping Rita's Italian Ice from midnight to 4 a.m. to grateful students who by now had changed out of their dresses and tuxes and into more casual clothes (and in some cases rather unique outfits).

A highlight for me was to see how much these kids have grown up and changed over the years. Some kids would walk by and say, "Hey, coach Battista," and I would look at my wife and she'd say, "That's so and so who you coached in soccer when Jonathon was 8 or 9."

I, of course, would respond with a resounding, "Yeah, oh yeah, I remember." Yeah, sure I did.

One young man I do remember is Saige Jenco, who I coached in soccer and baseball when he first got started in sports. He stopped by to say hello and grab a Mango flavored ice.  He is off to Virginia Tech to play baseball, no doubt in part because of the great coaching in his early days as an athlete. Actually, you could tell he was going to be an outstanding athlete even at that early age.

Others stopped by to chit-chat and fill Heidi and me in about their future plans and how much fun they had that night. A steady stream of my son's friends, State High Hockey players, Penn State colleague's kids, and even a few who remembered me as the Icers coach, helped keep the evening fresh and my wife and I awake.

The early morning fun came to a close with everyone cleaning up and us loading up the empty Rita's containers in our van to return home for a few hours of sleep before church.

The success of the "ANAPP" is entirely dependent on the volunteer spirit and donations from local businesses and parents.

Unfortunately, for our area, we are about to lose one of those families of tireless volunteers, The Sampselsl will soon be relocating to Washington. Susan is taking on an important administrative role at George Washington University. Those of us lucky enough to have the Sampsells as friends know just how many hours they put in behind the scenes.  We will miss them and want to thank them for all their years of service to the community.

So, it's two Battista kids down and one to go for prom.  But it won't be another six years before we will be volunteering to help again when Ryan is a senior.  No, we have already signed up to help our good friend Mitch Kirsch, who will chair the “ANAPP” next year.  We will be there to watch the next class of seniors enjoy this most American of traditions.

To all the volunteers and donors who helped make prom a big success, thank you. To the students attending the “ANAPP," thank you for being so well behaved, even as you had a ton of fun.

Best of luck to the students during finals and a special wish for success and happiness to the senior class.

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From ice hockey to Intercollegiate Athletics and Smeal, JoeBa has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities. Battista was an influential player in the effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley. He is now Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Buffalo Sabres.
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