Community Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

CHS Midnight Madness Committee Donates $5,000 to Help Senior Families in Need

From the Midnight Madness Committee:

When a group of Columbia High School senior parents signed on to help coordinate Midnight Madness, the annual substance-and-phone-free mystery trip held on the night of graduation, they thought they’d be following in the footsteps of their predecessors. Midnight Madness is a 30+ year tradition at Columbia, and the team quickly got up to speed by selecting a venue, designing new merchandise and starting to raise money to help defray the cost of the trip and offer scholarships to any student in need.

By mid-April, it became evident that the team would need to blaze a new trail and do anything they could to celebrate the CHS Class of 2020 in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. The team, made up of co-chairs Matt & Jennifer Glass and Jessie Wendt and co-treasurers Deirdra McLaughlin and Hope Tanhoff, got to work with the realization that the traditional Midnight Madness trip was not likely to happen.

All merchandise fundraising went online to CHSCougarShop.com with free, contactless delivery in SOMA. Bright red WE SALUTE THE CLASS OF 2020 lawn signs were sold to families and provided free to businesses in both towns. In a change from the past, every graduating senior had a free personalized CONGRATULATIONS lawn sign printed with their preferred first name or nickname. Every member of the class also got a CHS Class of 2020 t-shirt with every student name on the back as well as a branded red cow bell to help the seniors make noise at 8pm (20:20) on the night of the virtual graduation broadcast.

A record number of flocks of colorful flamingos were sold and appeared on lawns throughout SOMA, placed by an army of volunteers under the leadership of CHS parent Marietta Zacker. In addition, a 30’ long banner featuring the class’s senior photos, designed by senior parent Linda Thibodeau, was displayed on the school’s Valley Street fence.

With the strong support of the community, the team was able to raise enough funds to cover the costs of the senior salute items and leave a sizable financial cushion for next year’s Midnight Madness. And based on a request first generated by a student, Midnight Madness has donated $5,000 to the CHS Cougar Cares fund that supports student families in need.

With the help of the CHS staff, Cougar Cares identified 4 students whose families were severely impacted by COVID and funds were distributed to those students to help with technology/book expenses, tuition, and living expenses.

The Midnight Madness committee thanks the CHS HSA, staff and the entire SOMA community for coming together to help  celebrate and support the Class of 2020. They also wish every member of the class the best of luck as they head out into the world. Hopefully, the Class of 2021 will have a more traditional celebration. Until then, the venue for Midnight Madness 2020 is still a closely kept secret.

Other Stories