A Shamrockin’ New Year’s Eve: Young professionals use high school students’ expertise for party

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Joel Bruns and students Sarah Maloney, Taylor Dickey and Cate Jensen present to Westfield Young Professionals members Joe VanDeusen, left, and Kolton Blickenstaff. (Photo by Dawn Pearson)

The Westfield Young Professionals are throwing another New Year’s Eve party, and although the event is for people 21 and over, they are recruiting the help of high school students.

Students involved in Westfield High School’s Idea Farm are aiding WYP with marketing techniques and creating a mechanism for a Shamrock Drop to ring in the new year at midnight. On Dec. 1, students pitched their ideas to WYP members Joe VanDeusen and Kolton Blickenstaff.

Kolton Blickenstaff, left, and Joe VanDeusen are recruiting the help of high school students to market the Westfield Young Professionals’ New Year’s Eve party.

Innovation Specialist Joel Bruns displayed the ball drop prototype, which is constructed of frosted plastic cups, hot glue and lights that respond to music.

“Inside of (the ball) will be music-activated LEDs that change color to whatever the music is doing,” Bruns said. “When the beat changes, the colors will change.”

Students are working with CSI Signs, also in Westfield, to construct a mechanism to lower the ball at midnight. To construct the ball, students are glueing together clusters of seven cups, then attaching them to the prototype.

Students Taylor Dickey, Cate Jensen and Sarah Maloney are marketing the project.

“We created a few different accounts, an email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat,” Jensen said. “We will create a Snapchat geofilter that is event-specific, so when you’re there, anybody can use it. The premises are locked down by geofencing.”

LinkedIn and Nextdoor accounts also were created.

In addition to social media networks, the girls are spearheading two campaigns – one viral and one more traditional. They, along with WYP members, will canvas the community and display posters or smaller cards with a photo and a QR code with information about the night.

Innovation Specialist Joel Bruns explains the marketing strategies students, from left, Sarah Maloney, Taylor Dickey and Cate Jensen will utilize. (Photos by Dawn Pearson)

The photo the students chose doesn’t display much information about the event itself, but Bruns said that is by design and an important aspect of the viral campaign.

“The idea here is we wanted something that, to put it bluntly, cut through all the noise so people go, ‘What in the world is this?’” Bruns said. “We want people to get to the point where they’re so frustrated by seeing these things, they have to figure it out.”

A photo booth will be available at the New Year’s Eve event. Bruns and his students created a type of mechanism that immediately shoots a photo over to the event’s Twitter feed each time a photo is taken through the photo booth. Photos will then continuously display on a projector.

VanDeusen said the idea to involve the student,s even though they can’t attend the actual event,  is to localize it.

“This is mislabeled as a young professionals’ event,” he said. “The idea is it becomes a Westfield event. I would love it to evolve as Westfield continues to grow and turn into a big, community-wide event.”

Blickenstaff said students can bring an aspect to marketing the young professionals don’t have.

“I think they’re savvy in the marketing department,” he said. “Especially as WYP develops, these relationships (with students) are important. Relationships we can build within the schools are critical, and the support we can show the schools.”

Last year, the event turnout was 80. The group’s goal is to increase that number to 250, with organic growth and the assistance from the Idea Farm.

Craig Fugate, a WHS entrepreneurial and business teacher, said the connection helps build bridges between students and Westfield businesses.

“Part of the reason we wanted to do this was because we want to get kids involved in other businesses other than just a classroom environment,” Fugate said. “This gets kids exposed, and we want them to move forward as much as possible with real-world experience.”

For more, visit the Westfield Young Professionals’ Facebook page.

Attend the New Year’s Eve party

What: Westfield Young Professionals are hosting a New Year’s Eve party

When: 9 p.m. Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. Jan. 1.

Where: Grand Junction Tap Room, 1189 E. 181st St.

Tickets: $30 for single, $50 for couple. Includes DJ, champagne toast and venue. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/downtown-westfield-new-years-eve-bash-tickets-38916605615. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

More information: A DJ song request is currently live on the ticket site. Attendees can request songs at the event.

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