A group of juniors and seniors at East gather in room F322 directly after the final bell has rung on Monday, December 3rd. With every voice in the room being heard, the members of the 2019 prom committee call out their suggestions without even needing to raise their hands, vocalizing opinions on the matters of an event that won’t be taking place until well into the spring. But still, the girls are busy at work. They examine the examples of gifts that could potentially be souvenirs for those going to prom — choosing between differing styles of cups, light up bracelets, lanyards and blankets. The group diligently works, accounting for prices of each option, the response students may have, and the impact each individual item may have in the long run. The prom committee is tasked with ensuring that East students have the best possible experience at the dance, so that it may truly be a night to remember.
Junior Sara Hanratty busied herself with handing out flyers for the committee, as well as attending the meetings that occur on Mondays, directly after school. She stated that there is an importance to students attending, so that voices can be heard, and everyone can walk away from prom with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.
People have complained about spending all this money on homecoming and prom, but not enjoying it. [If] we have a voice in what’s going on, we will enjoy it more and get more of a turnout with people actually wanting to go,” Hanratty said. “I hope that people can say … [they] really enjoyed the prom of 2019, and it’s something that people actually talk about, so they can be excited for years to come.”
It has to start somewhere …
In previous years, prom was planned by the junior class committee; however, with less students in attendance to the meetings, seniors decided to take it up with the Administration to ensure that prom could still be underway.
Senior Ajunie Virk, Vice President of the senior class committee, was among the students that called attention to the necessity of a platform for prom planning to continue to take place.
“People were not joining [class committees] because of the new budget cuts and fees that go along with it … and you can’t plan a prom with such a small amount of people. So, we talked to administration about that, and they just decided to create a prom committee … you don’t have to pay, just go in and plan prom,” Virk explained.
The committee is open to both seniors and juniors with the new changes, casting a wider net of input towards prom related events, as well as providing a larger turnout for students discussing prom matters.
Juniors Kalli Bogard and Megan Falge, both members of the committee, stated that by merging the two classes, they are able to have more widespread ideas. They explained that it gave the seniors an opportunity to express what they prefer for once, considering they are the majority in attendance to prom.
Senior Katie Olivas stated that she felt that she needed to be heard. After getting an invitation from Hanratty she joined since prom would not be planned by the senior class committee and student council that she was involved in.
“I still wanted to have a say … I want prom to be fun, and I think I have a good sense of what our grade likes and dislikes so I figured I would at least semi represent [them],” Olivas said.
Power to the people
Within the actual meetings, the students are tasked with determining everything from the food to the DJ — having to consider how their choices will affect ticket prices, student turnout, and the overall experience.
Sponsor of the prom committee and math teacher Margo Partington stated the importance of giving the members freedom to choose what they wish. The students are in the process of picking a menu, poster, DJ, decorations, gift baskets, photo booths, and potential fireworks.
The committee has decided to have a theme of “A Night of a Thousand Lights,” and are determining the potential logo. With that comes the decision of cursive or not, whether it would be too ‘girly’ for the male students in attendance, where to include the school name with it, and what colors will associate with the theme.
A similar process was used when determining what the gift baskets would consist of. Members circled a table in the front of the classroom, laid out with potential souvenirs such as: water bottles, lanyards, bracelets and sunglasses — provided by Raj G. Chabria, president of R&M Specialties, LTD.
The members were in favor of blankets, which junior Cathleen Zbylut mentioned could be used during football games — events that the majority of students attend. At the same time, the addition of blankets would also add a $10 raise to ticket prices.
However, the DJ is one of the biggest determining factors on a successful prom, as explained by senior Madeline Kastel. She had attended prom last year as a junior and was let down by the song selections, prompting her to be involved in the decision making for the prom of 2019.
“[He] didn’t get us hyped up at all. A lot of people were not on the dance floor, which was very apparent since it is a big basis thing for prom … many were out in the hallway, and on the balcony. You could just tell people really weren’t enjoying the music, and I was one of those people,” Kastel said.
This publication did not reach out to last year’s DJ for comment.
Regarding the DJ, the committee has to keep in mind the price of hiring the ideal one. Pardington explained that if the students want good music, they may have to compromise a good sound system, and lighting — it’s about finding a balance of what is important for the students.
Bogard stated that she enjoyed Oswego’s DJ; however, the cost was well over $10,000 while the DJ from East’s prom last year was less than $2,000. The committee members are also in favor of fog, lighting, as well as a loud sound system, which all contribute to the price of tickets.
Location … Location … Location.
One of the biggest issues arising due to prevalent budget concerns, is the location of prom itself. The prom of 2019 will be held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, just as it was last year. However, in 2017, students were able to attend prom at Navy Pier, having to take school issued buses to Chicago and back.
Hanratty stated that there was nothing that could be done about having prom closeby in Bolingbrook, since it is written in a contract provided by the school board. She also explained the irritation that those who were in attendance had last year at the Golf Club, which adding pressure to the committee in order to make up for the experience in other areas.
“They felt like they wasted their money last year … so if we pick the DJ instead of teachers picking a DJ, then maybe they’ll pick the music that we actually want them to play. If we pick the theme and the colors, than maybe we’ll get the pictures that we were hoping for. If we get to decorate, then it will be the presentation that we want,” Hanratty said.
Partington did address that the were many positives to the Bolingbrook location despite some of the student complaints. For starters, the ticket prices for Navy Pier were $110, while last year they were only $65. She stated that last year they sold over 650 tickets, and since prom is funded solely off of ticket sales and fundraising, it is important that the prices are affordable for as many students as possible.
“We loved doing prom at Chicago but it’s just really unrealistic…this location is so much better … if they want to pay for a party bus, they have the luxury to pay for a party bus. If they want to leave, they have the luxury to leave early,” she added. “Especially since you’re spending so much on a prom dress, tux rental, parties … it’s a lot more beneficial having it local instead of at Chicago,” Partington pointed out.
Falge had similar views, finding the positives in the closer location. She explained that students rarely stayed at a dance for the entire time, and they have the freedom to go early or come later at Bolingbrook.
“It’s just easier having it at Bolingbrook. If you go to Navy Pier, you have to take a bus there and back, there’s no way you can stay in the city for the night. There’s no way of doing things, and you can’t leave, you have to stay there the whole time … [but] if it’s at Bolingbrook you can come and go whenever,” Falge stated.
Bogard also mentioned that it is an impossible task to please everybody, so making the most out of the location and acknowledging the positives that can come from it is important.
“Regardless, not everyone’s going to be happy, there’s always going to be someone that complains … [so] I just hope to have as many people happy with prom as possible and have a good experience,” Bogard said.
Funding the fun
Prom season is expensive, what with purchasing tickets, photos, outfits, and more. In order to alleviate financial struggles, the prom committee is in the process of planning an event next semester to aid to the cost and bring the community together simultaneously.
Partington described the fashion show that junior class committee and the prom committee will collaborate on as a resale prom dress event that will allow students to come and view gently worn prom dresses donated by East alumnus, seniors that have dresses from attendance to prom last year, as well from others in the community.
Partington described the fashion show event, explaining that it would include the DJ for prom in order to promote him or her. It will also include models, as well as hair and makeup to be done for the runway.
“I thought that would be a great kick-off before prom … we wanted to do it before special ed prom so we could have participants from special ed in our fashion show,” she explained. “Students get the chance to buy a gently used dress worn for literally one night, so they could go to prom and have it not be breaking the bank.”
Partington is also working on contacting Men’s Warehouse to show off collections of vests and suits, so that the event can include male models.
Falge stated that she was excited for the fashion show, and that it will provide aid to not only the Prom Committee, but also to all students at East.
“We’re going to have some people come in and do hair and makeup, and we’re also going to have it for volunteers, so students can receive volunteer hours which is pretty nice,” Falge stated.
As this is first year an event like this will take place at the school, Partington said that she will be pleased with a turnout and if dresses are sold.
“We want it to be a family event, we want the models to invite their families, we want … the people who want to buy dresses to invite their families, we want to make it a fun event … but really this is the first year, so if we can get a little bit of dresses sold I think it will really set it up for the years to come,” Partington said.
The fashion show is set to take place on Tuesday, March 12th, and a percentage of the money will go to a foundation of the committee’s choosing, while the rest will go to the respective owners of the prom dresses used within the show.
Hanratty listed the other ways that the committee will work to raise money such as; holding food fundraisers at restaurants, selling items during lunch, and selling tickets for Teacher vs. Students sporting events. She then explained ways in which every student could aid to making prom memorable.
“The committee is opened up to seniors [now, and] that’s a great way to get involved because it’s pretty much senior prom. If any sophomores are going to prom because of a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or even just want to try and help out with prom… buying some of the stuff from fundraising would help a lot. Going to the scrimmage game, or maybe buying food from the restaurants we do the fundraising for would help,” Hanratty stated.
The next prom committee meeting will take place sometime after winter break.