To mask or not to mask? Prom theme sparks conversation amongst Senior, Junior class

Heather Finnegan, the owner of The Glam Queen Boutique, displays one of her masks for sale. These masks are available to all East students through the Facebook page. Photo by Heather Finnegan. 

As May approaches and the senioritis kicks in for the Class of ’23, the upperclassmen anticipate the upcoming events that close out the year. 

Prom is one of the most eagerly awaited events at East and this year it will be held at the Chicago Marriott on May 6.  

While there is plenty of excitement behind this year’s Prom, there is also some controversy. Not only was the venue location changed as of last week – to a significantly farther location –, but East’s upperclassmen have conflicting opinions towards this year’s theme. 

The Junior Class Committee is responsible for selecting and decorating for the Prom theme; this year they chose Masquerade Ball. 

Junior and member of the Senior Class Council Whitney Bierman said the students involved chose this theme over others – like runner-up Enchanted Forest – because of the uniqueness. 

“It wouldn’t be like any other theme where it’s just a theme and nobody really participates in it,” Bierman said. “We thought it could be up to each person on whether or not they participate and what they are comfortable doing.”

This theme, unlike others in the past, can be more inclusive. So instead of just decorations, students have the option to wear masks like in the typical Masquerade balls.  

Junior Ava Saalfeld said it would be unlikely for her to wear a mask to the dance and feels as though not many people in attendance will participate in the theme. 

“I feel like the seniors should be able to choose the theme because it’s their last year and there’s going to be more seniors than juniors anyways,” Saalfeld said. “Nobody’s going to go out and buy their own mask when they already have so many other things to worry about buying, like flowers, a dress or tux, and heels.”

Masquerade Balls entail that the participants show up in costume, with a mask that covers their face. In this modern high school setting though, the attire will still be prom dresses and tuxes.

Bierman said while there were other themes in consideration, Masquerade seemed the most fun but she thinks only about half the students will take an interest in participating. 

“This [theme] was kind of the only one that was out there because sometimes the themes can get repetitive after so many years,” Bierman said. “Some people think the theme’s really cool but I think a lot of people don’t even realize that it’s a theme to participate in. That’s just how high schoolers are.”

Today masquerades are most commonly seen in movies, around Halloween or during Mardi Gras. Some of the largest masquerade balls still take place in cities like Venice and New Orleans. 

Senior Robert Coccarro said the theme is classic, timeless, and likely easy to decorate for. But Coccarro said he doesn’t see the benefit to the masks and would be surprised to see people participating.

“The girls especially put all this work into looking nice and putting on all of this makeup,” Coccarro said. “As soon as you put on a mask, it kind of ruins all of that hard work.”

Senior Ryan Boniecki said that the nature of the dance won’t even allow for masks to be functionable. 

“At prom we like to jump around, we like to mosh pit,” Boniecki said. “I’m not doing that with a mask on my face. It’s going to fall off in the first minute and honestly at that point it’s just a waste of money.”

Masks are being sold through a Facebook page run by a local organization, The Glam Queen Boutique for East as well as other local schools with the same theme. 

Grace Praxmarer is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl

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