There are many occasions that require
in a high school setting. There may be a
"Senior Banquet" for graduating seniors, Awards Banquets for sports or
extra-curricular teams, or even a
for staff members. Any or all of these may come under your job description.
L O C A T I O N
The most important thing to find out initially, is how many people will be attending. This will be a large factor in determining where you will hold the dinner. There are sites with dining rooms that specialize in banquets; restaurants that have a "back dining room" for this purpose, or you could hold it at a local Elk's Club, church, or even in your own cafeteria. The location you choose will largely determine the atmosphere of the event.
C O S T
You need to determine how much people are willing to pay to attend your banquet. Most schools try to keep costs down, and often have pot-luck dinners for sports teams. Whatever the group wants to spend will also determine how fancy your dinner will be. Just remember, there is no right or wrong approach--only different. Get a feel for the group's ideas about their banquet by asking them lots of questions. The more you know about their ideas, the easier it will be to plan an event that will be successful.
F O O D
Food can range from an elegant three course meal, to hot dogs and hamburgers on a barbecue. Most high school students haven't attended many banquets, and are not familiar with "banquet chicken." As a result, they may be a difficult audience to satisfy. Part of your job will be to educate them as to what to expect. Food is expensive, whether it is at a fancy banquet facility, or your own cafeteria. So be careful when giving estimates on the cost. It is easier to estimate high and come down in price than to add on to the price at the last minute. And remember that "doing it yourself' isn't always cheaper.
S E T U P   & D E C O R A T I O N S
Again, decorations is an item that can run the gamut in approach and expense. There are some basic things you will need--enough tables, chairs, linens, silverware, dishes and glassware to serve your group. (If you have it at a banquet center or restaurant--they will take care of these details.) You may also need people to help serve food, depending on what type of dinner you are having. After these basics are taken care of, you will need to consider decorations. This is an area where most students excel. Have a student group spearhead this activity. Be sure that they know their budget ahead of time to help them gear how elaborate they can be. Then let them do it. They may want balloons, banners, confetti, swags, or some other creative item that students are so adept at thinking of. Just keep in touch with your student committee and don't be surprised at the end because you never kept up with their plans. Communication is crucial to your success.
A W A R D S , S O U V E N I R S , P R O G R A M S
You may need special awards, souvenirs, or programs for this event.
PRINTED PROGRAMS: Your school secretary or a student should be able to help you set up a nice printed program. It is a nice way to add a formal touch to a banquet. Often times parents, teachers, or others have gone beyond the call of duty, and a formal thank you in the program is nice. Be sure that any names printed in the program are spelled correctly. It takes a bit of research time, but spelling a person's name wrong can be insulting--so take the time.
AWARDS OR CERTIFICATES: This can take many shapes and forms. You may need trophies, plaques, t-shirts, engraved pen & pencil sets, or anything that will be given out for special achievement. Allow lots of time for this. Eight weeks is a good rule of thumb for delivery time. But contact your vendor early. They may need time to get the item you want as well as time to engrave or personalize it. Certificates don't take as long, but give people enough time. That way you won't be disappointed by not having what you need on the evening of your banquet. (Also check to be sure that names are spelled correctly on certificates or awards. If they need to be redone, you will need to allow time for that.)
SOUVENIRS: There are many types of souvenirs that you may choose for a banquet. If you need ideas, you can check in catalogs. Anderson's catalogs have hundreds of items that could be used for banquet souvenirs. In fact, they probably have more things available than you thought possible. Most catalogs will do rush orders, but you should probably allow two months to receive an order.
P A R E N T P A R T I C I P A T I O N
If you can get parents to help you with this or any other event you plan, it can be fantastic. Be sure that you communicate with them on a regular basis. They are usually better acquainted with the other parents than you are, which enables more involvement by the community as a whole. Certainly an important goal in education today is parental involvement. This is one way you can help facilitate that.