by Jade Francis

Given the current status of Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) being predominantly remote, there was speculation about the arrangement and presentation of the upcoming Evening of Excellence. The Evening of Excellence is an annual event that occurs to honor scholarship recipients. Kathy McNamara, Executive Director of the Educational Foundation at 4Cs, explained that they “are working on creating an Evening of Excellence celebration that will be videotaped in advance and available on YouTube on May 20.”

The Event Planning class is offered every other year, focusing on the intricate processes that are involved in coordinating such a function. Nancy Willets, the professor of the Event Planning class, has set the responsibility of organizing the Evening of Excellence in the minds of her students. This gathering, which honors annual announcements of achievement, can be inspirational and thrilling for students. “The fun thing about it,” said Willets, “is that a student who applies for a scholarship and is going to receive a scholarship doesn’t know how much money or what scholarship they’re receiving until they come to the big event.” The previous spring celebration, due to the Coronavirus, had to be cancelled all together. To compensate for the loss of festivities, a large advertisement had been placed in the Cape Cod Times, congratulating the awarded scholars.

Along with the regular activities the class partakes in— such as attending and critiquing events along with the study of the developmental aspects of planning skills— the nine students in the Event Planning class have each been given a specific operation for the Evening of Excellence event. “The plan is for a fully virtual event to be completely put together and recorded so it will premiere on the college’s YouTube channel,” said Willets, “as some other things have been done. So rather than try to do it with people actually attending at a certain time, they can go back and watch it at their leisure.”

Willets refers to this project as the “best learning experience ever,” as the students have had to adjust their original plans to fit the needs of viewers for numerous reasons. Planning a virtual event can be difficult for a slew of reasons, especially Zoom fatigue. A huge obstacle in planning this evening is to make sure that each student gets their recognition but limiting the event’s extension before viewers are drained of interest.

The current plan is to gather introductory speeches from figures such as Kathy McNamara and President John Cox. Once the names of the scholarship recipients are publicized, the Event Planning class wants to reach out to students that are being awarded to ask them to send in a 15 to 20 second video clip for the virtual event. They are not sure about the audio and visual content of the recipients’ videos, but they plan to make an example video to give recipients an idea of what to say. Another hope is to receive videos from scholarship donors if time permits. The Event Planning class is working with many other teams to put this event together: the video production class, the radio broadcasting class, the persuasive communications class, and the Tilden Arts Center.

Monique Allen, a student in Willets’ Event Planning class, has vital vision regarding social choreography. Before moving to Cape Cod, Allen was a wedding planner in Jamaica, so when she saw a class centered around event planning, she was ecstatic. “What Nancy has us doing is breaking down the different elements that would then come full circle to have this production,” said Allen. “So, we’ve been talking budgets, and now we’re doing it virtually so we have to be creative.”

Allen emphasizes that to produce a satisfactory function, being a team player is mandatory. “At the end of the day, once everything comes together, it needs to work and be cohesive. If you see somebody struggling, you have to help them, because the aim is the same for everybody and if that portion doesn’t work chances are it’s going to throw off what you think you’ve done so perfect.”

Through this upcoming month, the Event Planning class will be working diligently to prepare for the Evening of Excellence. The video will be available within time for everyone to tune in and see this year’s scholarship recipients.