Hampton makes changes to prom to help promote safety
Giving Hampton students the choice to stay at one location all night for this year's prom will aid in increasing after-party attendance and providing a safe venue to celebrate.
In the past, prom night usually included dinner, dancing and an optional after-party at the high school. This year, after having dinner at the Omni William Penn downtown, which is the school's usual prom dinner venue, students can have the option of staying there for the post-event festivities as well instead of traveling back to Hampton.
“This year, the PTO decided to try something new in an effort to make the after-prom event even more fun and get more kids to attend. As you know, the goal of after prom is to give kids a safe, fun way to celebrate after prom ends,” said Rebecca Gaynier, who co-chairs the PTO after-prom committee with Lynn Leppert.
Student council representatives junior Allie Boretsky and senior Ryan Bates presented some of the details of the prom at the April 2 school board meeting. They said the high school after-prom party was getting low attendance over the years.
“People just don't want to drive all the way back to the high school,” said Boretsky.
They said they're hoping the change this year will draw more students to stay.
Students can begin the night at the high school with a prom walk from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. With a Hollywood theme, prom-goers can walk a red carpet, drink fizzy drinks and pose for the “paparazzi” where friends and families can see the students, Gaynier said. This is the only part of the evening open to the public.
Then, the students can depart for dinner downtown. In an effort to ensure safety, the school district has always required students to use either the school-sponsored buses, legal guardians, or a private, contracted carrier, such as limousines.
“The school is very strict about this. Any student who is caught not following this rule will not be permitted to attend prom and they will not receive a refund,” said Shari Berg, public relations consultant for the district.
Students will be allowed to bring a change of casual clothing for the after party, something also new. Gaynier, who has a junior and a freshman at the high school, said there will be games such as Jenga and Connect Four, a Fortnite tournament, karaoke and a hypnotist. The whole floor of the hotel will be opened for the students.
“At the end of the night, we're sending them off with breakfast to-go,” she said.
Bates said the Omni William Penn also does not allow students to drive from the event.
And Boretsky added that if a student didn't sign up to stay for the after-party ahead of time and later changed their mind, they can stay.
However, she said if a student did sign up for the after-party, they cannot leave.
The after-party is free, but students have to buy dinner tickets, they said. The costs are $170 per couple or $85 per single. The after-party is from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., according to Gaynier.
The event is attended by Hampton High School administration and faculty and is chaperoned by the PTO. The supervision by the chaperones begins when the students enter prom and ends upon departure, as listed on the district website.
“We're hoping to build on the enthusiasm and positive momentum to encourage more kids than ever to join in on this great opportunity to make the night extra special, safe and memorable,” said Gaynier.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.