Under The Sea Senior Event Went Swimmingly

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The senior parents did it again. After months of planning, dedicated moms and dads from countless committees transformed the Great Neck South gym into an Under the Sea–themed wonderland on Thursday, June 1, with jellyfish suspended from the ceiling and life-size mermaids, King Poseidon and Ursula, along with brightly colored coral and sea creatures, adding to the ambiance.

Dressed in the T-shirts the parents designed, which list the names of the entire Class of 2017 on the back, the soon-to-be grads were treated to music, dancing, delicious food, temporary tattoos and games.

“I have cochaired Senior Event for all four of our children and the wonderful thing about the planning is that we don’t only build sets but we build great friendships among the parents who tirelessly work to make a magical night for all the seniors,” said Alina Hendler.

The school gym was off limits for two weeks as parents secretly channeled their creativity under the helm of decorating chair Collette Schildkraut.

“Senior Event was something we worked on from October until June 1,” said Schildkraut. “The day of the event we were still making things and coming up with solutions. There was a very hard-working group of parents, from fundraising to food committee to general day-to-day stuff like emails. Then, my group of parents had to come up with the decorations that covered the whole gym, including the ceiling.”

Set builder and head of construction Joe Renta made a boardwalk that the students had to cross as they approached the room. Walking through the double gym doors, partygoers had to pass through a boat that looked as if it were borrowed from Pirates of the Caribbean, thanks to the skills of tech teacher John Motchkavitz.

Liz Dusman, who oversaw the creation of about 10 sea-themed games, said, “Of course, seeing the kids have such an awesome evening made it all worthwhile.”

Throughout the evening, the seniors received tickets for prizes and had the chance to win raffles.

In addition to being perfect for selfies, the sculptures, created by Marvin Anchin, a retired art teacher and parent of former South High grads, helped bring the theme alive. He started on this year’s characters last summer, but has been creating sculptures for Senior Event since 2000 when his older daughter graduated. Anchin enjoyed continuing the tradition this year with the help of engineer Joe Friedman, along with Schildkraut, technical decorator Joann Rickey, designer Debbie Sussman, Lilian Hsiao, sculpting assistant Tina Anchin and many others.

“One of my great joys of doing Senior Event is watching parents learn and do artwork and tell me how much they enjoy the experience. After teaching art for more than three decades, part of my retirement has been to make Senior Event wonderful because my children say that it was one of the best memories of high school for them and their friends,” said Anchin, who also shares his expertise by creating personalized sculptures for private parties.

“The seniors’ younger siblings and friends hear such amazing things about the event that they really look forward to it every year,” continued Anchin. “They have no idea what’s coming until they walk in.”

Schildkraut agreed, “The kids of South High had an amazing time. They told us again and again, which was lovely and made me proud of all the hard work we had put in.”

Hendler’s amazed daughter, Allyson, agreed, “This was such a beautiful memory you gave all of us seniors as we end our four years here.”

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In addition to being editor of the Great Neck Record, Sheri ArbitalJacoby utilizes her more than three decades of publishing experience as a managing editor at national magazines to spearhead Anton Media Group's special edition magazines. She also writes decorating, travel and green articles for Long Island Weekly and Anton's special sections.

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