Band Pasta Fundraiser Q & A


Leslie Valerio

Attendees of the Band Pasta Fundraiser decompress together with a pasta dinner.

Plainfield East High School’s Band kicked off Homecoming Week with the revival of their Band Pasta Fundraiser. Here is what one of the Band sponsors, Mr. Lesniak, and a couple of band students, Katie McAdam and Perla Hernandez, said regarding the fundraiser.

Q- What is the purpose of this fundraiser?
A- Katie McAdam: “To raise money for the competitions and just raise money in general for our music programs.”

Q- How did the fundraiser work?
A- McAdam: “So basically, we sold tickets for $5 and we would come in, we would hand in tickets and it was unlimited pasta and salad and then you would get meatballs with your first time going through as well as soda, and then the second time you would go through, if you wanted more soda or more meatballs, you would go through and have to pay extra.”

Q- Is this the first time doing this fundraiser?
A- McAdam: “No.”

Q- How was the fundraising experience the same or different?
A- Perla Hernandez: “Well, I don’t think any of us were here whenever we started it, they hadn’t done this for two or three years, something like that.”
McAdam: “Yeah, so we did it previously before Covid, this is the first time after Covid we’re doing it. I wasn’t in this school, but my brother was, and he participated in it, and it’s pretty much the same thing.”

Q- What type of food did you sell and what was the price for each?
A- Hernandez: “So, we would sell tickets to the students before the actual event for $5, and then at the door, it was $7. Then if you wanted another round of meatballs after your first one that was included in the ticket, you would have to pay $3 for 3 meatballs.”
McAdam: “It was like a dollar per meatball, and then I’m not sure about the soda, but then you’d have to pay extra for that.”

Q- What things went smoothly/ what challenges emerged during the fundraiser?
A- Hernandez: “I think it went pretty well, I mean the students were all volunteering.”
McAdam: “Yeah, we had a lot of student volunteers, which was really nice.”
Hernandez: “Yeah, I was volunteering with serving the meatballs. There were a few other classes who were serving the sauce and the pasta. There were people who were just passing by getting their food.”

Q- How could you improve this fundraiser if you were to do it again?
A- McAdam: “Probably different plates because the plates were made out of very flimsy styrofoam, and so we actually did end up having a couple of spills with spaghetti, and so we did have to clean that up. Then the amount of plates I guess, there was a salad
bowl, and then you would get your plate with your spaghetti on it, and then in order to put your ticket for your meatballs, and your soda, you would have to put all your stuff down.”
Hernandez: “There was a lot to carry, plus the soda can with three plates.”

Q- How many people came to this fundraiser?
A-Hernandez: “There was a lot of people, I mean the tables were pretty full and I think what kind of helped with that was the NHS was selling the ice cream, so like more people came and were like ‘Oh there’s pasta too.’”
McAdam: “And the wind ensemble was performing.”

Q- What was your favorite part of doing this fundraiser?
A- McAdam: “Honestly, it was hanging out with my friends.”
Hernandez: “Yeah, that was fun.”

Q- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A- Hernandez: “I enjoyed the music, like I was just volunteering and listening to the wind ensemble for like one hour, so that was cool.”


Q- How did you come up with the idea for this particular fundraiser?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “When the school opened back in 2008, we knew that we needed some sort of fundraiser for the band program to help fund various pieces of equipment, the registration fees for competitions that we go to, and things of that nature. So one of the parents came up with the idea of a pasta dinner and we thought okay, what would be the best time of year to do that, and we thought well homecoming would be the best time. It’s a chance to bring the community together, have our kids perform a little bit, and just have a good time. When we asked the administration at that point in time if we could be the kick-off to homecoming week, they agreed.”
Q- How many of the band students participated in this fundraiser?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “I don’t know the exact number, but I would say that over half of our students participated in some way, either as part of the wind ensemble that performed, or as part of the volunteer core that helped make sure that tables were clean, food was served, all that sort of stuff. We had well over half of our program involved in that.”
Q- How much money did you expect to raise? Was the money raised more or less than what you expected?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “We usually expect to raise somewhere between a thousand and fifteen hundred dollars for the fundraiser. I’m not sure yet what our numbers are for this year, they’re still calculating based on what items we had to purchase, people we had to pay, and things like that, but we’re hopeful on a thousand dollars that we make as profit.”
Q- Is this the first time doing this fundraiser? If not, how was this experience the same or different?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “This was not the first time doing this fundraiser, like I said, we started this fundraiser when this school opened, back in fall of 2008, and this one was a little different simply because it was our first time after taking two to three years off. There were people who participated back then who knew the process and what we had done before, how the set up happens, what was the logistical set up in terms of the line, how we set up in the kitchen, all those sorts of things. This year, I think we had almost everybody who helped out was new. If I remember right, I think we had three parents that were helping out in total that had some experience with it in the past, so that made it a little more challenging, but it was fun because again, after two or three years of not having it, being able to have this kind of event, bringing the community together, have people just sitting back, enjoying, talking with each other, having some music in the background, it was really great to see.”
Q- What did the preparations for this fundraiser look like and how long did it take to prepare?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “We started the preparations and planning over the summer really, because we had to pick a date and kind of get things going. Our booster parents worked hard to try and secure some donations, and then from the band standpoint, we prepare music for the events as we are the entertainment for the evening. We typically take the music we played the previous year at graduation and refine it throughout the fall along with adding some new music in that we’ve been working on in marching band to add a variety of music. Between all of that, that really starts over the summer. As far as the heavy duty preparations, that was in the last week really picking up all of the donations and the food that we need to purchase, setting up the tables, cafeteria, etc. and that sort of thing.”
Q- How could you improve this fundraiser if you were to do it again next year?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “We certainly hope to be able to do it again next year. We certainly tried to make improvements this year, just trying to get the word out, making sure that we were in the daily announcements so that we could advertise to our student body. We would love to try to advertise more in the community, so it becomes a full orange house event and not necessarily just a Plainfield East event because when we celebrate homecoming, we’re celebrating not only Plainfield East High School, but the entire orange house community and all of the schools and families within it. So perhaps trying to spread the advertising out and trying to get more of the community involved and coming in for the event.”
Q- What was your favorite part about doing this fundraiser?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “I love getting the chance to talk with our parents who we see a lot of times in our marching band, but they’re working, pushing equipment and everything like that, so just seeing them in an environment where they’re much more relaxed and sitting back. Probably the most excitement I have is when I get to see alumni that come back. They know that this event happens and so they make an effort to try and come back and say hello and support the band. It’s a chance to catch up with them and see what they’re doing, how they’re doing, and that’s definitely the most exciting part of this.”
Q- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A- Mr. Lesniak: “Thank you to everyone who participated and joined us for the event. From our standpoint, kind of seeing what was there, kind of from the eye test it seemed like it was a great success. We had a lot of people there, and we definitely want to thank NHS as well. They typically provide the ice cream social, so they provide the dessert to our fundraiser and it’s always nice collaborating with them. Thanks to everybody for coming out and supporting the band program.”