Programming Ideas: How to Get Your Gleek On

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Does anyone else have a school full of Glee fans?  It's quite a prominent subculture at our school (we have a Performing Arts Institute in the summer and a strong arts program during the school year) and there has been many a library conversation relaying Brittany-isms or qvelling over how amazing a guest star Gwenyth Paltrow is.

So when my Library Advisory Board (LAB) came up with the idea of a Glee Party, I leapt all over it.  But what to do?  Since interdepartmental collaboration always equals a better program, I contacted our Student Activities guru (another Gleek) and asked her if she'd want to team up.  A big "yes" and a look at the school calendar revealed an activities opening the first Friday back from the winter break, so we booked that Saturday night as the Gleek Party spot.  Coordinating with other school staff is always a great idea, since you don't want to split your audience with another event.  After all, it's the school's money, so we should get plenty of bang for its buck and serve our students the best.  Being partners with other faculty helps make that happen.

Now that I had a date, what to do?  The LAB discussion also centered around the library finally investing in a gaming system, and one of my kids deftly pointed out that the Glee Karaoke game is now available for several systems.  After an exhaustive discussion with numerous students and lots of reading, we decided on a Wii.  I also bought the Glee Karaoke game (which comes with a microphone and I bought another one from Game Stop since Best Buy didn't have extra microphones) and just hedging my bets for the future, I invested in three other controllers (and got them in pink, blue and black to differentiate them from the original white one that came with the Wii).  Some iTunes gift cards for prizes (Best Costume, Karaoke winner, and Trivia Winner) and I was set with the programming.

But these are kids we are talking about, so food had to figure prominently.  Student Activities guru and I brainstormed and (since she's amazing) came up with the idea of renting a snow cone machine (from her budget) so we could make slushies.  For under $100, a lot of catering and party rental places can get you one of these beauties.  The fee included three different flavors of syrup (Blue Raspberry, Cherry and Grape) and little pumps to dispense them.  I bought three bags of ice at the gas station for $5 and found the machine totally simple to use - it's like a wood chipper for ice!  In about 15 minutes, you can grind all the ice and just have this snow mountain in the machine ready to go - it seems to keep itself super cold and didn't seem to melt much at all.

We also added in tater tots (naturally) which we kept warm in a Crockpot and threw in pizza and soda for good measure (we got a bottle of Dr. Pepper in honor of Brittany and it was drunk with much giggling and swishing).  I also made fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

A few of my LAB members came early to help set everything up, along with my fabulous Student Activities guru and my husband (who works with me at the school and was in charge of pizza).  We brought out a projector, screen, and speakers and hooked up the Wii in about 15 minutes.  Kids began coming through the door 30 to 40 minutes early.  We had about 22 kids sign up ahead of time, but I know my audience, and bought double the food, which was a good thing since 45 kids showed up.  Since my school is 450 kids, this was 10% of my population, and I know that I had 12 additional kids who expressed interest but were away at sports games (girls' and boys' ice hockey and wrestling were all away) or at overnight activities, like our Mock Trial team which was in Pittsburgh (and got second in their tournament, thank you!). 

The Glee Karaoke game was AMAZING and the kids LOVED it.  Buying the two microphones was key because most of the kids sang duets.  You have access to a good portion of the songs from Season 1 and can select different levels of difficulty and whether you want to do the song with other people or solo. Coolest is the fact that what is displayed while you are singing is the actual Glee episode performance of the song!  Students were welcome to practice (they played for fun for about 45 minutes) and then had kids sign up for the actual Karaoke contest.  A scorekeeper (my awesome husband again) wrote down each person or team's accuracy and overall points.  Accuracy was the main thing for us to determine who won - an iTunes gift card was awarded with much cheering to the winner!

Glee trivia was another popular category, but be warned!  My trivia is hard since we did have so many Glee experts (Gleeks) on board.  Anyone who would like to make a copy on Google Docs is welcome to do so - I created both the trivia contest sheet (a handout, but you could easily make it into a Jeopardy game) and I also have a answers sheet for easy grading. 

We watched an episode from Glee, Season 1 on DVD (which I bought for our DVD collection and checked it out at the end of the night).  In promoting the event via poster and email, I had created a survey using and polled people for their favorite episode (which BTW, was "Preggers" featuring the very poignant Kurt coming out to his Dad storyline as well as the insanely wonderful scene of the whole football team doing the "Single Ladies" Beyonce number).  We watched the episode together with much cheering and singing along and the trivia sheets were filled out during this portion of the night.

I had a display (above) of drama and musical related books along with the ALA Glee bookmarks.  We had a TON of books checked out this night - some from the display but even more from kids wandering the stacks and talking about books.

I'm the pale, tired one in the center.  The cute blonde is Student Activities guru and my husband is on my other side.  I couldn't have done this without them!  We also gave out three of the ALA Glee Read posters as giveaways for runners up in the contests.

Final verdict?  This was a super example of using my LAB to tap into programming ideas that I can get enthusiastic about and that the kids love.  The Wii is a great investment for future gaming activities in the library and brought in a ton of kids.  I had several students who had never even seen the show before, but came because they heard the buzz from friends and stayed for the food and the Wii fun.  I'd say it was Gleektastic overall and I look forward to thinking up similar events that my kids will enjoy!