Extending this special night safely
Prom night is arguably one of the most important social events of a teen’s high school experience. The planning, the preparation, and — for girls, anyway — the dress selection, the hair, makeup, and accessories decisions are made months in advance. A visit to the hairdresser (or the help and advice of close friends) and a trip to the nail salon are in order the day of the event, then a gathering of girlfriends to get ready. The gentlemen rent their tuxedos and buy the requisite flowers. Most importantly for the proud parents, photos are taken in great numbers.
The dance itself is magical, thanks to the efforts of the volunteers who produce the massive effort.
The dance ends at a late hour, but then what to do? Teens don’t want the fun night to end. This is where the danger lurks. Many teens gather for parties afterwards, which usually involve a lot of alcohol consumption. That in itself is dangerous, but teens driving home is even more dangerous.
Michelle Clark, who said Liberty’s after-prom is “her baby”, admitted she is concerned: “Students fall prey to making unhealthy choices in the hours after Prom because there is really [almost] nowhere for them to go and nothing to do at that hour.”
In Fauquier County, the three high schools hold After Prom: alcohol-free parties organized by parents, volunteers, and local merchants. “After Prom events are a safe, sober way for the kids to make memories and be in a safer environment while marking one of the biggest milestones in their young lives,” said Clark. Kids change out of their finery into comfortable clothes and take part in all the games, food, entertainment, and prizes the night has to offer. There is no charge for the event.
Leslie Cox, a parent of two Kettle Run students who leads the committee of volunteers organizing the early morning part of the event, is passionate about the importance of the After Prom party. She said, “It is an exciting and fun way to safely continue Prom festivities. Students are with their friends and walk away with some great memories… and maybe even a great prize.”
The raffles are always popular. Some lucky seniors will win cash prizes of $2,020 and juniors will have a chance to win choice parking spaces for their senior year. All can participate in drawings for additional prizes, donated by local merchants, such as TVs, printers, Bluetooth speakers, and laptops. There are also other prizes such as restaurant or retail gift certificates. To win prizes — which are awarded at the end of the event — students must arrive promptly after the event starts and remain for the full duration.
Chatting with the after-prom chairpersons from Liberty, Kettle Run and Fauquier High Schools, I was impressed with the local support all three school committees have received from the community. Foremost among the financial supporters is the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation (www.fauquiereie.org), which donates to the committees of all three schools. Another major supporter is the Chris Herren Foundation, which focuses on anti-addiction causes by supporting positive options for youth. Churches, individuals, and other non-profits join in. Each school has set a budget in the $10,000 to $14,000 range.
In addition, numerous local restaurants will donate in the form of food. Chick-Fil-A, for example, donates food to all three school parties. Wegmans grocery is another major donor, and several local restaurants provide snacks.
Approved individual volunteers — the key to a successful after-prom party — act as monitors, deliver food, oversee games, register attending students at the door and help with set-up and cleanup. Volunteers, not surprisingly, are mostly parents, but other community members also play a large role.
Liberty High School’s theme this year is “Summer Camp”. Entertainment will include a movie, fire pit complete with smores, a field day of games and events in the gymnasium, and the always popular photo booth. Their event will overlap the ending of the prom which will take place at Lord Fairfax Community College on April 25 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Students can begin arriving for after-prom at 11:30 and will stay until 4 a.m., when they can enjoy a breakfast prepared by volunteers.
Kettle Run High School’s After-Prom will be at the school building as well and will immediately follow the prom itself which will be held at the Inn at Vint Hill on the evening of April 25. Inflatable games, including a mechanical bull, will highlight the entertainment. Students will also be able to try out a hamster ball or obstacle course, play casino night or bingo, or join a pick-up basketball game. Food and drink will be supplied by Pepsi, Wegmans grocery, Carousel, several pizza restaurants, and Nathan’s, a new restaurant arriving at Vint Hill.
Fauquier High School uniquely has scheduled its prom for April 18 and its After-Prom from midnight to 4 a.m immediately afterward. Scheduling one of the proms for a different date provides considerable relief to local businesses that want to support all three schools or that employ students for part-time work. It also gives some students the option of attending more than one prom if they have a date from a different school.
Nancy Griffin-Bonnaire, who chairs Fauquier’s After-Prom, was eager to highlight Shady Oaks Amusement, located in Catlett, for its role in providing much of the entertainment for its “Old Hollywood” themed event. Griffin-Bonnaire mentioned that her committee is renting Shady Oaks’ inflatables, including Hippo Chow Down, Human Whack-a-Mole and, of course, the popular Bull-Riding game. Local DJ Michael Harmon will keep the music going throughout the party.
How you can help
Donations of prizes, gift certificates, or food
Volunteer to help organize the event or participate in the night itself. Volunteers are subject to background checks.
Contacts for After Prom Committees
Fauquier High School: Nancy Griffin-Bonnaire, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kettle Run High School: Leslie Cox, email@example.com
Liberty High School: Michelle Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org