On Feb. 29, MV Octagon hosted its annual cancer fundraiser and semi formal dinner, which was named “Cure Cancer Cruise” (CCC) this year. The five student-run CCC committees — Acts, Decorations, Public Relations, Silent Auction and Waitering and Catering — collaborated in allowing the event to come together. Each committee consisted of committee executives, heads and chairs.
Executives (MV Octagon presidents and vice presidents)
- Planned and organized the overall event
- Coordinated with the committees; checked in with and updated their corresponding heads
- Had varied levels of involvement in each committee
Heads (Octagon officers)
- Communication between executives and chairs
- Facilitated meetings outside of school
- Often had experience working in their committee
Chairs (Non-Octagon officers)
- Elected by application
- Worked according to their committee’s plans
Every Friday lunch, all CCC committees gathered in room C104 to discuss progress on task assignments and plans for the upcoming week. Scroll through the package stories to learn about each committee’s extensive preparations leading up to CCC.
The Acts Committee of CCC (Acts) is responsible for coordinating with the emcees and organizing the entertainment setlist. By hosting event auditions to attract both individual and group performers, Acts ensures that the performances are diverse in medium and style and appeal to the event theme.
In the beginning stages of planning and preparations during mid January, the Acts committee sought to secure a speaker who would match the committee’s criteria — an individual who had insight to share about a personalized experience with cancer. Like previous years, Acts emphasized the need to contact speakers who could bring forth a connection, rather than factual technicalities about cancer and the prospects of a cure, as the main purpose of inviting a speaker is to “get the story across.” However, they noted that approaching and finding a speaker can be difficult, due to the sensitive and personal nature of the topic.
At this point, the committee reached out and found students interested in being the event emcees. According to sophomore and head Ronit Avalani, they play a crucial role in the overall flow of the acts.
“Our whole goal [with having emcees is] to make people enjoy it,” Avalani said. “If there are awkward breaks in between the acts, we don’t like it — it makes the show less fun and less productive.”
Acts scheduled meetings over winter break to discuss availability and goals. While the committee wasn’t in a time crunch, the earlier date of CCC caused all the committees to start the planning process earlier, according to Avalani.
“We have to make sure that we work with that cram timeline and get ahead of ourselves,” Avalani said. “So when we first had our meetings and we were planning all this, we were on top of it ... and we had a plan to follow, which helped us to get ahead of schedule ... and right now [as of Jan. 14], we don’t really have to stress about much, because everything is going as planned.”
Acts foresaw that coordination with other committees would be significant, as there were intertwining aspects across committees. Acts needing to collaborate with the Waitering and Catering Committee is one example of this. They needed to allocate tables for performers and how much of the event budget would be required to seat larger and smaller groups.
END OF JANUARY
Acts was hoping to finalize the acts setlist and start collaborating with the performers personally about show lineup, equipment and stage space. However, after closing acts auditions on Jan. 27, Acts was still not completely satisfied, given that they had only received six singing auditions.
“We have to probably grab more people and different types of acts because all of them are singing so far [as of Jan. 31],” Avalani said. “We want a little more variety [so] that way people actually enjoy the show rather than just watching singing for three hours.”
Acts chose auditions based on anticipated audience interest and how the act would fit in with the rest of the setlist and event theme.
“Last year, when we had the casino, we tried to get a mentalist that fit the Vegas vibe,” sophomore and chair Salinka Dhamija said. “For the cruise, we researched other cruises to see what kind of acts were on there, and we saw that magicians were on there. So that was one of the reasons why we picked the magician – because it suited the theme and it was something that the audience would be interested in.”
Besides individual auditions, Acts was also looking for some groups such as MV Song and MV Andaaz.
Despite the tentative nature of the acts at that moment, the members of the Acts committee still had to take into account the physical staging of the acts at the CCC event. Acts took time to visit the Quinlan Community Center to measure the stage and figure out other performance logistics.
Over the course of early February, Acts extended the audition deadline to Feb. 8; the committee received several more audition videos that week, and was pleased the extension garnered more performing groups and individuals. As Acts continued to contact and confirm other acts over the two weeks leading up to CCC, they gained a better idea of the setlist. They met on Feb. 9 to finalize the performing acts and create a temporary setlist.
Some factors taken into consideration for choosing acts included the styles of each performance, the order of the acts as well as ensuring that the performance times didn’t conflict with the times that the Waitering and Catering (W&C) Committee had designated to serve food.
The emcees for CCC — seniors Rachel Millar, Dan Sachs and Sonia Singh — had also been finalized. Avalani anticipated that because the emcees were a great combination, the show for the night would be entertaining. With CCC approaching in several weeks, the committee knew it needed to begin coordinating with the emcees to script out the entire CCC outline.
Due to a cancellation of a previously intended cancer speaker, the committee had to continue their search for another one. While finding a new speaker may pose a drawback, Manoj believed that the committee has consistently been on schedule the three months leading up to CCC.
“I feel pretty good about what we did because we created a schedule just before the start of winter break, and we stuck with it,” Manoj said. “Our schedule itself was more ahead of schedule ... than what the execs intended, so we actually ended up being perfectly on time with things, so I’m very happy with what everyone did so far.”
THE DAY OF CCC
On the morning of CCC, the original plan was for all the performers to run through their routines to test out the equipment and make adjustments. However, due to various scheduling conflicts, the majority of the acts ran through their performances in the afternoon, and some didn’t end up running through them at all. Besides a slight issue with magician David Martinez’s mic, as he was unable to come ahead of time for a mic check, Acts believed that the acts themselves ran smoothly.
Besides not being able to find a cancer speaker in time, Dhamija pointed out that Acts could have coordinated better with the W&C committee at the event, as attendees would often be getting up during performances to the drinks bar or the chocolate fountain, creating a lot of noise and distracting guests from viewing the acts.
Overall, junior and chair Eugene Yoon was proud of how the committee was able to establish good relationships and attributed their success through their cooperation.
“I feel like the bonding within this committee is stronger than any other committee I’ve been in in the past, because the leaders of this committee were really focused on making this an inclusive community of people instead of just people just working independently to find the other acts,” Yoon said. “So I feel like the relationships that we made within this committee have helped us double up better ideas, and overall become better partners to do well, and do other events in the future as well.”
The Decorations Committee of CCC (Decs) is responsible for creating display posters and table centerpieces to reinforce the event’s cruise theme.
In a dimly lit garage with the occasional beam of natural light shining through, upbeat music plays from a make-shift mug speaker while the Decs Committee works on sketching, mixing, painting and gluing, intermittently chatting among themselves about school and their personal lives.
This was a common scene at sophomore and head Shreya Mantripragada’s house, where Decs met almost weekly for two months leading up to CCC.
According to Mantripragada, Decs is a vital CCC committee that “[brought] the entire room together” by setting the event’s atmosphere. Sophomore and chair Aryaa Pathak appreciates the people in Decs and their passion for implementing and pursuing their artistic abilities through acrylic and watercolor mediums.
On Jan. 12, Decs began its weekly meetings at Mantripragada’s garage to design and paint posters, using various colors of acrylic and metallic paint and glitter. For the main poster, they planned to recreate a scene of a cruise ship floating on the ocean with vibrant fireworks bursting in the background.
Sophomore and chair Lydia Lu described her first year on the committee as “really exciting,” since she volunteered at CCC last year. This contr
“[Decs is] also good to use as a creative outlet for my ideas,” Lu said. “And [it’s] also [good for] being creative and solving problems ... like with the budget this year. It’s also [good for] overall meeting new people and creating a new space with the ideas that I have for the event.”
Decs predicted finishing the main large poster before February break, so it could allocate time to work on the second and third posters over the course of February break. In addition to designing posters, the Decs committee is also responsible for picking centerpieces to add flair to the tables at CCC. While nothing was finalized until mid-February, some ideas were to use mancala beads, seashells and sand “to have an ocean and sand kind of vibe,” as well as mini buoys, according to Mantripragada.
In addition, Decs also planned to place a banner that read “Welcome Aboard” above the entrance to recreate the experience of walking onto a cruise. According to Lu, to create an “around the world vibe,” the committee attached string flags of each country that came out of the poster, as if the visitors were traveling to those countries.
LATE JANUARY/EARLY FEBRUARY
Decs’s goal was to complete painting the fireworks and the glittery CCC title, as well as apply additional touch ups. The committee finished painting the sky and filled it with multicolored fireworks.
Throughout the painting process, members of the committee noticed that their personal schedules occasionally conflicted with meeting times, resulting in fluctuating committee attendance. While Lu acknowledged this to be the case, she remained optimistic about Dec’s progress.
“I know that every time we meet up, we always get a lot done,” Lu said. “A lot of us are busy, so it stands as an obstacle. But when all of us come together, I feel like we can get a lot done in a single meeting.”
After taking a break the weekend of Feb. 1-2 due to schedule conflicts, Decs resumed its work on Feb. 9, adding the mountains and starting the water with a blue paint base.
Mantripragada expressed her overall excitement for the CCC event and the decorations she helped create.
“You feel really good because in CCC, it’s really good to see how your decorations bring everything together,” Mantripragada said. “Seeing that piece by piece is a good feeling.”
With CCC quickly approaching, the first poster was a work-in-progress, and there was no visible progress on the other two posters. Decs hoped to take advantage of February break to increase the meetings frequency to finish the posters on time.
Over the course of February break, Pathak created tiny flags — which would eventually be a part of the centerpieces — by using markers to color country flag designs onto pieces of paper and then binding them onto toothpicks. The centerpieces were presented as round glass bowls filled with blue mancala beads, drizzled with sand and topped with golden-wrapper almond chocolate.
THE WEEK OF CCC
On Feb. 24, the Monday before CCC, Decs met up once more to enhance the main poster’s glittery fireworks and complete the finishing touches on the second poster. On Feb. 28, the night before CCC, Decs met up at Mantripragada’s house one last time to perfect the main display poster. Because the main poster was the “meat” of the committee’s efforts according to Mantripragada, Decs committed more time to fine-tuning and refining the poster’s color blending. The “Welcome Aboard” or the third poster was simpler in comparison to the main poster’s complexity.
Parvathaneni started the third and final poster by outlining the poster’s edges in solid blue the afternoon before CCC.
Besides the posters, there were many other decorations prepared by the Decs Committee — mini-buoys and silver and blue glittery anchor cutouts — hung and taped to the walls and doors of Quinlan Community Center to enhance the CCC experience. Members of other committees and volunteers pitched in to help setting up.
Reflecting on the two-month-long process of decorations prep for CCC, Mantripragada noted that the best part of Decs was befriending new people of varying grade levels. Parvathaneni agreed with this sentiment, noting that she and Mantripragada never would have interacted during school if they weren’t on the same CCC committee. Through Decs, the pair strengthened their friendship after discovering that they watch many of the same TV shows and are both the “exact same person.”
As Decs’s poster preparations came to a close, Mantripragada expressed that working with the committee was fun, as she enjoyed “every single piece” of the process. While time management posed to be a struggle for the committee, according to Mantripragada, Decs was able to cooperate due to the committee’s team strengths — love, collaboration and respect for one another.
“CCC is just so much fun, and seeing how your work can be put together in a really cool way is just so interesting,” Mantripragada said. “It was cool to see how all of our hard work in Decs was able to be appreciated by a large crowd of people.”
The Public Relations Committee (PR) is responsible for event advertising and increasing public awareness of CCC through academic incentives like extra credit and homework passes, creating flyers and social media promotion prior to CCC. PR engages in the behind-the-scenes of CCC by coordinating with the committee executives for promotional work and shifts task deadlines to accommodate the early CCC timeline.
According to junior and head Sammy Banerjee, PR is the “make or break” committee — if PR doesn’t sell enough event tickets, then CCC “goes to waste,” as there wouldn’t be enough guests to fill the dining room capacity.
Banerjee, who was on the PR committee last year, attributed his previous mistakes to him “not carrying [his] slack” last year; as a result, the committee barely sold out. Returning to PR, Banerjee knew what managerial aspects to improve.
“Last year, we didn’t get enough extra credit that incentivized kids to come,” Banerjee said. “This year, we’re going to ... be more upfront [about the event]. We’re going to talk to more people, and hopefully, we sell out.”
On Jan. 5, PR met up for the first time at Panera Bread to debrief break progress, run through operations and assign soft deadlines. PR reconvened at the next weekly Panera meet up on Jan. 11 to confirm the logistics of CCC: to keep tickets at $20 online instead of $25 and implement a CCC booth at Club Info Day to drive ticket sales. PR also allocated specific buildings for each member to pitch CCC to teachers in hopes of securing extra credit offers.
In addition, PR discussed junior and executive Nicholas Hsieh’s idea to host a CCC promotion week, similar to a Leadership spirit week. However, junior and chair Anjali Singh pointed out that hosting activities such as musical chairs wouldn’t align with the event’s objectives.
“One of our committee chairs made a good point: that’s not Octagon,” junior and head Ayah Ali-Ahmad said. “You can’t imagine Octagon being like, ‘Let’s play tug of war’ in the rally court to promo for a cancer fundraiser event.”
Alternatively, Ali-Ahmad proposed releasing Instagram countdown posts as a part of PR’s promotional plans for the three days preceding CCC, as the online platform was the “strongest place” to promote.
While every teacher agreed to post a flyer on their classroom whiteboards, only 13 were willing to grant extra credit and nine teachers offered homework passes and/or extra points. Despite this, Ali-Ahmad sees that the committee was more efficient in terms of prompting attendance incentives than in previous years; however, sophomore and chair Devin Gupta pointed out that this task proved to be difficult this year as well.
“All teachers are super supportive of the cause,” Gupta said. “They all want to promo. They all want to speak. They all want to have flyers ... but when [attendance] starts becoming part of a grade, they’re more reluctant.”
As January came to a close, PR was in the stages of flyer planning and solidifying event logistics. PR was also finalizing a prototype flyer design to use as the main visual for social media promotion. Gupta collaborated on the CCC ticket design with junior and Silent Auction chair Kanishka Kumar and senior and MV Design It’s president Grace Ryu. Gupta decided between his and Kumar’s joint design and Ryu’s submission.
Ali-Ahmad believes that although the majority of what PR has accomplished wasn’t as prominent at the event, the committee is important in spreading awareness through online promotion and in-person pitching.
“[Being a part of PR] really shows that each committee is really important even if you don’t outright see [PR’s efforts],” Ali-Ahmad said. “With PR, we’re doing a lot behind the scenes, and we work a lot with the [executives] and [check] in with them.”
Over the course of early February, the only incomplete promotional assignment was creating an online ticket QR code for the flyer design. In addition, Ali-Ahmad would create the “most detailed” and “most interactive” aspect of CCC’s advertising: the Facebook event, which included the list of teachers offering extra credit and homework passes.
On Feb. 9, PR launched the online tickets sales at $20 a ticket. To increase ticket sales, PR scheduled promotions at certain times in the day for mass social media recognition.
Over February break, Ali-Ahmad filmed, assembled and edited a last-minute promotional skit video that was uploaded on all social media platforms and YouTube. PR travelled to Gong Cha to bond and brainstorm ideas, such as using a green screen to replicate the opening theme of TV show “The Suite Life on Deck,” shooting a shot resembling the movie Titanic in a pool and floating a paper boat down a creek. According to Ali-Ahmad, the promotional video carries a “form of hype,” which is effective in CCC advertising.
On Feb. 26, Octagon released the physical tickets, which were priced at $25. PR aimed to attract underclassmen for event pitching and ticket sales — mainly freshmen — since they have the “least amount going on” during the end of February, according to Ali-Ahmad. During the in person advertising process, Ali-Ahmad noted that promoting CCC to freshmen with big friend groups was beneficial towards ticket sales.
“Usually when one of your friends goes, it’s a group thing,” Ali-Ahmad said. “You don’t go alone to CCC. I think being in person and telling them and showing your enthusiasm, just like we do with teachers when we ask for extra credit, is the best way to go.”
According to junior and Silent Auction executive Nicholas Hsieh, the committees were able to sell a majority of their physical tickets, exceeding sales from the previous year.
As the night of CCC ended and the committee winded down, Gupta believes that PR performed a “fantastic job” in respect to event promotion and ticket sales. According to Gupta, the committee’s collective efforts were most impressive the day before CCC, when he was able to see the heads and chairs across all five committees pitching the event’s cause and selling tickets across campus. With this, Gupta believes that witnessing students being openly engaged with CCC through effective advertising was rewarding for PR.
Gupta was also apprehensive about the effectiveness of the flyer’s design quality, as he believed PR focused primarily on the quality of event promotions.
“The point of posters is to get people to see that event or get people to see that club, and it’s not necessarily super effective,” Gupta said. “I don’t know how much they care about the quality of that poster [or] the quality of how good it looks … We focused a lot on how good the quality of our promo was, and I’m not so sure that made a huge difference [to the] result.”
Gupta also believes that PR could have utilized more creative and diverse forms of promotion instead of the typical forms of advertising — social media, posters and new ticket designs. Instead, Gupta suggests sending invitations to attendees, similar to Leadership’s promotion for homecoming.
“I don’t think we were risky enough,” Gupta said. “We didn’t have enough audacity to go and take risky forms of promo; rather we kind of stuck to what has worked before. It worked, but I mean, I don’t know if that’s a real win.”
CCC was empowering for Gupta because the event’s preparations gave Gupta a newfound belief in the power of student-run organizations, and intends to re-apply as a chair next year.
“I didn’t think [running an organization] was necessarily possible for teenagers; I thought they … only were college-minded,” Gupta said. “But last year, and definitely this year, I saw a lot of students coming out because they wanted to support their friends. They wanted to support cancer. They wanted to just be with other people. And that was really inspiring.”
The Silent Auction committee purchases and receives donations of items around the community to auction them off at the event. During the month leading up to CCC, Silent Auction secures items from Goodwill, the De Anza Flea Market and the San Jose Flea Market.
JANUARY TO FEBRUARY
The search commenced on Jan. 18, Members of the Silent Auction Committee met at Panera Bread to look over the items they had ordered online. After scouring the internet for more deals, Silent Auction went to Goodwill to search for other inexpensive items. While junior and head Ryan Guo dug through piles of the gadget section at Goodwill, other members of Silent Auction searched the lower shelves.
Due to the limited budget, the committee’s purchases at the local Goodwill store were restricted to a box of APUSH flashcards, a giant stuffed teddy bear and a face cleansing kit with four attachable brush heads. Junior and chair Kanishka Kumar noted that finding items could be difficult.
“You just have to think outside the box [with a limited budget],” Kumar said. “You have to think about what other [high schoolers] would like, make sure that people would actually buy this — that’s the game plan. It’s more of making sure [that] what we buy, people will want to bid for it. So that’s why we make it subjective [to] what [buyers] want.”
According to junior and executive Nicholas Hsieh, the main ways that Silent Auction purchased items are online through platforms such as Wish and Amazon and at flea markets or local businesses.
“Flea markets sell cheap stuff and most of the time the people are pretty cool, and a lot of people will just donate stuff,” Hsieh said. “Small businesses in the area — like coffee shops — that [aren’t] corporate [are] normally willing to donate.”
The Silent Auction Committee planned to visit a flea market each weekend. Guo noticed that sellers at San Jose Flea Market were more willing to donate to CCC rather than De Anza Flea Market because they had a larger profit margin.
“At [the] De Anza Flea Market, they’re selling more of their personal items — it’s more of a family thing,” Guo said. “While at the San Jose Flea Market, you find people who take it more as a business with massive amounts of stuff, more than what you would find than a regular person having. It’s like drop-shipping for them but without using the internet.”
At the De Anza Flea Market, the committee found limited items that fell within their budget. The committee purchased what Kumar describes as goods that “a lot of people would buy,” including assorted stickers, stuffed animals, vases and fanny packs. According to Guo, the committee used successful purchases from previous years to help guide them through their purchases in bulk this year as well — such as Hydro Flask look-alikes and laptop stickers.
Before the Silent Auction Committee visited the San Jose Flea Market, they needed to coordinate with the Acts Committee prior to the day of CCC.
“The main coordination we’ll be doing [with the Acts Committee] is that there is a specific time slot in which people are allowed to get up and go to look at the silent auction items,” Guo said. “[This serves as] an intermission between acts, so we have to coordinate that with Acts.”
As a first-time participant in CCC, sophomore and chair Jia Desai was excited to meet the Silent Auction Committee and partner with local businesses in the area.
While other members of the committee planned purchases, Desai spent most of her time contacting local major businesses such as Apple, Target and Kohl’s.
“It would be a really big honor for companies to participate in [CCC] and [donate] any unwanted things that they have,” Desai said. “A lot of the big corporations — they end up salvaging a lot of things even after the sale. As they say, ‘one man’s treasure is another man’s gold,’ and that’s the case with us.”
Despite her optimism, Desai initially worried that the event was “too small” for the corporations to pay attention to. She imagined that their emails to the companies would get ignored.
“I was a bit reluctant because they are so big, why would they partner with us?” Desai said. “But [I] just [sent] out this message that we’re trying to help the community and that if there is anything you can do to help, that would be great.”
The rest of the committee had their final stop planned before CCC — San Jose Flea Market. However, because of scheduling issues, the group was not able to attend this year. Instead, the committee tried to convince Target to donate some items by asking managers and employees. However, Target and other big corporations in the area also decided not to donate.
“[According to Target], it’s policy [to not give anything away],” Guo said. “They have a policy and they have to follow it and we respect that. We weren’t expecting a lot [at Target], mainly just to see what we could do. But we went there and decided we [couldn’t] leave empty-handed and decided to buy some cheap headphones.”
With their shopping complete and the items finalized, Silent Auction prepared bid sheets and display tables. Guo remained confident that the items that Silent Auction purchased would sell well, and Desai was excited to see which new items are a hit for the silent auction.
“[What I’m most excited for] is enjoying and seeing the parents and other people coming in and people enjoying the event,” Desai said. “Because I think the whole team of Octagon and the team of CCC chairs were working really hard to make sure that people were having a really great time.”
The Waitering and Catering Committee (W&C) is responsible for taste testing entrees and appetizers that would appeal to the public. Aside from catering selections, W&C facilitates the orderliness of the event and oversees the inner workings of the kitchen on the day of CCC to ensure that the event is following procedure.
JANUARY TO FEBRUARY
Over the course of the 2019-20 winter break, committee chairs sophomore Siri Adusumilli and freshman Derek Shen and head and sophomore Riya Ranjan contacted two Italian cuisine restaurants — Doppio Zero and Maggiano’s Little Italy — to request catering for 300 people. According to Adusumilli, the committee chose Italian dining as the entrée food, as Italian dishes are a “crowd pleaser” and were “popular” among the student body.
Afterwards, the managers of both restaurants and the trio scheduled a free taste testing session. The committee chairs taste tested a plethora of dishes — ravioli, rigatoni, croquettes, mozzarella balls, risotto bites, meatballs, spaghetti, fettuccine and robiola rocchetta.
On Jan. 3, the W&C committee conducted the first taste testing session at Doppio Zero, a Southern Italian cuisine and pizzeria. Looking at the restaurant’s menu beforehand, the W&C committee noted only four dishes that appealed to their interests. The manager recommended a “tasteless” ground raw cauliflower appetizer that the committee left untouched.
The committee visited Maggiano’s on Jan. 5 and selected two appetizers that they enjoyed. They taste tested Maggiano’s risotto bites (a rice pasta cooked in cheese, fried with bread crumbs and paired with marinara sauce) and croquettes (a fried potato dish).
Last year, W&C hosted an open bar, where student volunteers served as bartenders and hand-made bubbly “mocktails” from Sprite, pineapple juice, lemonade, Coke and orange juice instead of serving pre-made beverages.
Due to the bar’s success, W&C looked to implement this interactive touch to CCC this year and used several of the same drink recipes that received popular reception from the public, such as the Shirley Temple. In addition, W&C brewed a pineapple mint mojito, an appletini, a “Mountain Mojito Mocktail,” a “Sweet Sunrise” and a “Very Berry Mocktail.”
“[The open bar is] more about just having some creativity because [with it], I think [CCC] looks a lot more professional
,” Ranjan said. “It’s just a cute idea to have actual drink ideas on a menu that people can order.”
In addition to the bar, W&C planned to introduce a new food attraction: the chocolate fountain. The committee was inclined on a chocolate fountain over a chocolate cake because the fountain complemented the cruise theme and would be more “novel.” The committee considered strawberries, bananas, donut holes and rice krispies as choices for nine or 10 fountain dippers. W&C ordered the chocolate fountain on Jan. 24 alongside 25 pounds of chocolate.
The committee noted that one “chaotic” concern to last year’s W&C operations was the organization of waiter duties. According to Adusumilli, who was a chair last year, on the night of the event, committee chairs were “frazzled” because waiters were not fulfilling their assigned duties. As a result, chair members were frantically plating dishes to serve. As the night continued, W&C began to run out of food because the waiters pocketed and ate the food for themselves. Shen, who washed dishes in the kitchen at last year’s CCC as an eighth grader, acknowledged the waiters’ lack of attentiveness.
“There were a lot of problems with [the] waiters in the back as well as just everything being really cluttered and not enough space,” Shen said. “There were waiters eating food when they still needed to serve it to the people and then there’s just people sitting around doing nothing at moments when [everyone’s] ordering food.”
W&C was unable to book a room in Quinlan prior to last year’s event to train volunteers and resorted to talking the waiters through all the required processes hours beforehand. This year, W&C planned to avoid this problem by designating waiter trainings during February break so waiters have a comprehensive idea of their duties.
During early February, W&C started posting waiter and bartender sign-ups on Octagon’s website. In addition, the committee wrapped up buying and organizing all the decorations — Shen ordered the tablecloths and Adusumilli ordered glasses for the bar on Jan. 10.
The next step for the committee was to finalize the Costco shopping list — a list of perishable items to be bought in bulk such as drink ingredients and fruit skewers — and make a trip to Costco on Feb. 20. The committee was “very ahead” of where it needed to be according to Ranjan, as all the food was ordered, dessert had been taken care of and the lists were completed. With this, W&C’s progress was “better than expected,” as Ranjan didn’t anticipate the committee would be able to purchase enough food due to this year’s limited CCC budget. However, because W&C received catering from Maggiano’s last year, the committee was able to receive a significant discount this year.
On Feb. 16, W&C hosted its first waiter training in the Olive Court to debrief waiter etiquette and ground policies — no eating in the back, following the correct route and being courteous to guests. The committee emphasized the need for tighter regulations, noting that waiters would be deducted hours upon late arrival if seen eating or drinking.
According to Ranjan, a complication for the W&C committee was that CCC runs in between a five-day DECA conference in Santa Clara that all three chair members were attending. W&C noted that the coinciding DECA conference and regional Robotics competition would hurt waiter sign ups.
“I definitely think it will be harder on the day of, but hopefully since our executives have done this before … they’ll be there the day of,” Ranjan said. “They hopefully will have a lot of it covered. We’ll be there for most of the time, so it shouldn’t be too bad. It is going to be a little bit chaotic, which is why we’re trying to do all the training beforehand.”
Throughout the two-month-long preparation process, W&C noted that the committee was especially proactive and organized with planning and ordering food until the day of. According to Shen, W&C “smoothened the ride” up until the night of CCC.
On the night of CCC, W&C ran into an unforeseeable circumstance involving heating the pre-ordered catering with plastic covering. This resulted in a delay in service, as W&C had to re-ordered entrees from Maggiano’s. Adusumilli attributes this to a “small misstep” that called upon compromises.
“It was just a lack of [communication],” Adusumilli said. “It was a lapse in judgement that was caused by both of us not thinking properly and then to really just recover, it took a lot of the execs and Riya … pulling a lot of strings to really help pull the event back on track.”
This year, W&C invested time into perfecting waiter etiquette, professionalism and attendance. While there were a select number of waiters who did not attend the pre-event waiter training, W&C was lenient and permitted them to still serve as waiters. However, interested students who don’t attend the waiter training will be taken off the volunteer list next year.
Adusumilli acknowledges that a “good majority” did follow the waitering rules, even with the occurrence of the food incident. However, some waiters were “somewhat lacking” and were “not up to par” with following the designated waiter route and procedures.
“We had specific waiters that performed really well even under the pressure of the food, and we had certain waiters who didn’t want to be there,” Adusumilli said. “But I feel like that comes with every year, and we just have to be ... more careful with waiter screening. But I mean, we can’t always screen out everybody.”
While a third waiter training before CCC won’t be necessary, as the committee was able to walkthrough waitering procedures within 30 minutes, W&C notes that it neededs to be wary about waiter attendance. Both Adusumilli and Shen believe that there needs to be a more thorough check-in process to guarantee that there are no waiters who are volunteering only to deter the orderliness of the event’s execution. Adusumilli and Shen will be re-applying as W&C chairs next year.
“[W&C] were organized, nothing was last minute, all our waiters showed up, all the … food was originally there, the chocolate fountain went well and we had most of the waiters following the rules,” Adusumilli said. “I would say that [CCC] went well other for than one misstep in the situation that we just need to be more careful about.”