Behind the Scenes of Hershey High School MiniTHON 2022

Emily Donegan , Reporter

MiniTHON was held this year on March 18th, 2022. 

The main gym was filled with fan favorites that included gaga ball, nine square, volleyball, hungry hippos, bubble ball, and cornhole. The event stayed very high energy throughout the night thanks to the DJ who was also in the gym playing music that kept people up on their feet all evening.

Playing nine squares are many MiniThon participants. They are keeping their energy levels up as they continue celebrating their way through the event. (MiniTHON Executive Director/Samantha Koegler)

When venturing over to the cafeteria, not only was there delicious food available for all participants, but ping pong tournaments, lively video games, creative arts and crafts tables and relay races for all were also taking place. 

It does not end there. The auditorium became a stage for all music lovers interested in performing karaoke live with their friends. 

Lastly MiniTHON members could head over to the orchestra room and relax with some adorable furry friends or get their brain gears shifting while figuring their way out of the interactive escape room. 

Featured is one of the furry friends that attended MiniThon. This golden retriever, and many other animals raised morale all night while receiving lots of affection from MiniTHON participants. (MiniTHON Executive Director/Samantha Koegler) 

Towards the end of the night everyone joins together in the gym for the Luminary Walk. Everyone one stays quiet and does a lap in the gym acknowledging and giving proper respect to all of those who did not win their fight with cancer, and everyone who is still fighting their battle right now.

Pictured are all MiniThon participants gathered in the gym for the dance party. They are celebrating their final hour of the event. (MiniTHON Managing Director/Kristina Chroneos)

Before the event comes to a close, all thon members celebrate all of their hard work that led 

them to this point with a dance party. Smiles are seen across everyone’s faces, and the gym is quickly transformed into a party with loud music, colorful lights and tons of people all celebrating their accomplishments. 

An event as remarkable as this one certainly is not planned overnight, but how much work exactly does go into this event? Let’s rewind to May 2021. 

Displayed are all the lanterns gathered together before setting them up for the Luminary Walk. The lanterns honored many brave lives. (MiniTHON Personal Relations Morale/Elise Dornberger)

Hershey High School Teachers and MiniTHON advisors Mrs. Liz Blosky has been involved with MiniThon for the past fifteen years working closely alongside Mrs. Amy Licata who has been involved for eight years. 

MiniTHON members get a short amount of time to bask in the success of their event before it is time to start the preparations for next year. Licata said May is when the club begins to, “plan for next year in terms of putting out applications for students to complete to become certain positions and directors.”

Once student positions for the following year have been set in stone, the advisors continue to stay closely in touch with the clubs executive director over the summer months. This year the Executive Director was Hershey High School Senior Samantha Koegler.

Koegler has been in MiniTHON since sixth grade.   As a freshman in high school she immediately jumped into becoming a committee member. She moved up to be managing director her sophomore year and has taken the lead as executive director for the past two years. 

In order to become an executive director, Koegler is currently taking a one credit internship during period two of her school day, and this time is completely dedicated to MiniTHON. Although this period is allotted for MiniTHON, Koegler said, “usually I would say I spend around 15-20 hours a week on it.” 

Her daily to-do list consists of sending many emails to her advisors with questions or concerns, contacting HHS Principal Dr. Jeff Smith, requesting approval on certain events that the club plans on holding in the future, or getting in touch with sponsors who are interested in attending the event or donating in some way. 

During the summer the executive director is in charge of managing all of the new members and their leadership roles. At this point Koegler makes sure that everyone knows what their roles are, and what responsibilities come with the leadership positions that they have recently been designated.

Although club members are not in school at this point in the year, this is when the brainstorming process begins. Internet platforms like email and zoom are used to keep the club communicating over the summer months. Ideas start to get tossed around between members, and talk about which activities that they want to include at MiniTHON begin to get discussed. 

“Preparation for the actual event really kicks into high gear right after Christmas break  and then it takes a solid 2-3 months to get everything together for the event,” said Koegler. During this time period planning for kick off is going on, as well as confirming what food and people will be able to attend MiniThon. 

While Koegler continues to oversee all of the logistics that go into this grand event, the workload is spread throughout different committee members. 

Hershey High School senior Mofi Oladipo has been involved with MiniTHON since eighth grade.  This year she worked as the public relations and moral director where she focused on spreading the word to all of her community through social media. She focused on posting through social media herself, and put junior committee member, Elise Dornberger in charge of the TikTok account, and junior committee member Anna O’Conner in charge of the club Snapchat account. 

Not only does this section of MiniTHON work to spread the word about everything going on with the club itself, but they also have the crucial job of creating the known and loved MiniTHON dance that is made up and performed every year to build excitement and morale among the school community. 

Oladipo said when there was no school, the committee members, “met at Gelder [Park], we sat down, we buckled in, and it was about two and half hours thinking about what dance it would be, learning it and recording it, so it took a pretty long time.” 

Throughout the process of planning MiniTHON, there are some small steps that the general public does not always get to see, but the club members deemed crucial. One major one is fundraising. 

Throughout the entirety of the year, fundraising is going on in many different forms so that the club’s monetary goal can be met. Licata said MiniTHON has, “several smaller fundraisers besides MiniTHON itself, and that is extremely important to our fundraising goals.” 

Members work with committee leaders to reach out to local restaurants to see if they would be interested in holding a fundraiser where a portion of the earnings made at the restaurant would go directly to MiniTHON. 

Oladipo also said that she worked a lot with “push week” in her specific committee. During this time, Oladipo had to have multiple posts ready to go each day for an entire week to try and raise as much money as possible. Platforms such as Instagram, SnapChat, Tik Tok and Facebook would all be used in order to reach a larger audience.  

The club works together to brainstorm incentives to give out to all Hershey High School students and staff that will encourage them to raise money. Some rewards this year came in the form of gift cards, free parking spots, or getting to see teachers and students partake in MiniTHON challenges. For example 10th grade chemistry teacher, Mrs. Kim Haney received a pie to the face, and senior club member of MiniTHON Mia Bertoldi did the ALS ice bucket challenge. 

After months of hard work the day has arrived. MiniTHON set up day is here and everyone is beyond excited. 

This year, MiniTHON was not an overnight event which ultimately cut into some of the set up time that the crew is used to. Koegler shares that she has experienced two different set up days. “When I was a managing director, we were setting up for the overnight event, and that’s the setup that goes from pretty much 7am to 6pm,” said Koegler. 

Hosting MiniTHON from 2pm to 11pm this year cut the set up day down to about 7am to 1pm, but the team was still able to get everything finished in time. 

Dornberger said on set up day, “each person was put into a group in different places, and we made posters and collaborated to do decorations everywhere.” 

Koegler had many responsibilities on set up day, some of which required her to leave the building to pick up groceries or other supplies, so Oladipo shares how she took on more of a leading role in the gym to keep things running smoothly while Koegler was out and about. 

She worked alongside her club members by assigning tasks to people to make the process of decorating go much faster.

Pictured is one of many signs hung up in the hallways during setup. The signs allowed MiniThon members to set up for the event with minimal distractions. (Broadcaster/Emily Donegan) 

Once 2 pm rolls around the event is finally kicked off. All of the planning is finished, and now it is time to enjoy the event with all of their peers and celebrate their accomplishments. This year, a grand total of $38,962.83 was raised by the team.

Joining together to celebrate their grand total are MiniThon club leaders. The money will go towards continuing to fight childhood cancer. (MiniTHON Executive Director/ Samantha Keogler)

Kristina Chroneos just completed the year as a Managing Director for MiniTHON and worked very closely with Executive Director, Samantha Keogler. This allowed them to be able to learn the ropes and take over the position as Co-Executive Director next year with Disha Patel. 

With their new leadership role, Chroneos said after discussing priorities for the club next year, “we really want more of a personal level with our committee members and the club members in general.” 

Now that the world is in the direction towards a sense of normalcy after the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such disruption, many club members said how it was so refreshing to hold an event that generated so much energy for such an incredible cause. 

Chroneos and Patel plan to keep composing spirit and building hype around MiniTHON throughout all of Hershey High School in order to keep the club growing and thriving. 

Keogler said how both Chromeos and Patel did an amazing job helping to plan this year’s MiniThon in their leadership positions, and she has complete faith that they will continue to excel next year after she has graduated. 

As the thank you notes for MiniTHON 2022 begin to be sent out in order to properly acknowledge all of the support that the club has received, Chroneos and Patel excitedly begin to lead the process of making Hershey High School MiniTHON 2023.