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Party time for RHS seniors

Rosemount High School's June 13 commencement exercise is the big event this week for families of RHS graduates, but for most seniors it's only the start of the party.

For much of the senior class the celebration will spill over into the school's traditional all-night party. Part carnival, part casino, part show, the annual party is an attempt to give students a safe, supervised place to mark the end of their high school careers and to gather one last time as a Rosemount High School class before heading their separate ways.

It's also a whole lot of work.

Teri Temple knows a little bit about that. Temple, whose daughter Emily is graduating this year, is chair of the parent-run committee that planned this year's celebration. She and the other parents have been working since May of 2007 to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. They've planned events, booked entertainers and found food. They did a lot of fund-raising in an effort to keep ticket prices down.

What this year's committee has come up with is an Olympics-themed evening that features tattoo artists, caricatures and video games. There will be inflatable carnival games and a full casino. There'll even be a mechanical bull.

Students will all get play money when they walk in the door Friday night, and they'll have a chance to win more at the event's casino or by playing an RHS version of popular NBC game show Deal or no Deal. Students can use the money to buy raffle tickets for a chance at prizes like a laptop computer or a flat screen TV.

Making sure everything comes together is a major undertaking, and it can feel overwhelming at times. Most parent committees keep detailed notebooks on who they talk to for what, but inevitably there are questions for the following group of parents to answer and holes for them to fill in.

"You feel a little bit like you're re-inventing the wheel every year. Trying to make sure you've got the correct contact list, you're on the right timeline," Temple said.

Getting ready for the party takes more than just planning, though. Parents also get a chance to show off their acting skills, such as they may be. Each year the parent committee announces the theme of the party -- and kicks off ticket sales -- with a skit performed in front of the senior class. RHS teacher Chuck Brooks writes the skits and plans a few games. The parents get to dress up in funny costumes, act foolishly and, just maybe, embarrass their children a little.

"It's goofy and it's silly," Temple said. "My husband and I were the torch bearers. Apparently we did a good enough job that kids still remember us. It was very embarrassing but very rewarding."

The senior party typically draws well. Temple said past senior parties have drawn from 75 to 85 percent of the senior class. By May of this year, organizers had sold tickets to about 300 seniors, and Temple expected to sell at least 100 more tickets before Friday.

This is Temple's first time through the graduation party process. She'll get a three-year break before her next child graduates. She said she makes a habit of getting involved in her children's activities. And as much work as she's put in over the past 13 months or so, she believes it will all be worth it when her daughter and the rest of the class of 2008 gets together to celebrate 12 years of education, friendships and memories.

"In this day and age I think it's really necessary to provide high schoolers with a healthy alternative to what they might find on their own," she said. "I really think that (students) enjoy it. I think the thing the kids take away from it is not how it looks, but that their friends are there."