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The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

Prom, but at what cost?

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Centerpiece decorations from prom of 2018.

Prom can be one of the biggest events during your high school experience and is responsible for many exciting memories, but at what cost?

A big complaint about prom is the ticket price. Tickets are $35 per person, where $25 of that goes towards prom and the remaining $10 goes towards after prom. Since  Junior Advisory Board (who organizes prom) plans for at least 500 students to attend prom, it has a $12,000 budget and after prom has a $5,000 budget.

Here is a breakdown of the costs.

Aspect of prom Cost
Decorations Around $7,000
Lighting/other electronics D.J. brings lighting for stage, other lights are reused, new stair lights around $800
Food $400 for snacks/drinks
Music Around $1,500
Photography Photobooth between $400-$1,000 (depends, usually $400)
Other Rented tables, chairs, linens and centerpieces (around $2,000); $300 tent if it rains and security is around $300-$400
After Prom $800 to rent bowling alley, $2,000 for t-shirts, $2,000-$2,500 for prizes
Total (Prom) Around $12,000
Total (After prom) Around $5,000


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French teacher Beth Smith has organized prom since 1993, with the exception of 2003 and 2004. She has noticed a trend of prom becoming more expensive with each new year.

“Part of it is the rising cost of decorations. Once you’ve decorated, you want to decorate more every year,” Smith said. “The goal gets bigger every year.”

However, there are ways that she and the Junior Advisory Board throughout the years have been able to cut down costs in some places to allocate the funds elsewhere.

“We used to have the entire cafeteria area open, so we’d have about 20 big, round tables which means more linens and more centerpieces,” Smith said. “We have downsized that a little bit because we noticed that we weren’t using that space enough.”

They have also decided to hold after prom at Classic Lanes this year as opposed to the Union. Instead of paying for Union catering, which can get pretty costly, they can now order pizzas, wings and other foods to bring to the bowling alley.

This year’s prom theme is “A Year in One Night” based around the four seasons. Each floor level will represent a different season. The bottom floor will be winter, the next floor up where the security guard desks are will be fall, the dance floor will be summer and the top will be spring. Prom of 2019 will be on May 18.

“The whole thing is not going to be just trees, I want everyone to know that, it’ll be more than just trees,” Smith said. “The dance floor will be like an outdoor terrace with cafe lights across the ceiling and tables with umbrellas. The top floor will have a gazebo and cherry blossoms.”

This year’s theme took a while to figure out and plan accordingly, but once the theme was finalized, picking out decorations seemed to come naturally.

“We did seasons because it was different, and it was very minimalistic and simple. Our goal this year was to do something that Ms. Smith has never seen before,” current Junior Advisory Board president Olivia Karaboja said. “We thought about doing a festivals theme, which would have been festivals from around the world, but we decided that it was too similar to last years theme, so we settled on cherry blossom festivals and played off of seasonal festivals.”

“I’m actually really excited about it because I haven’t done anything like it,” Smith said.

The planning process of prom is primarily handled by students on Junior Advisory Board.

“When I see it all come together, I myself am always amazed at what it looks like knowing that maybe 20 inexperienced students put together this giant event that was really successful. It makes me really proud,” Smith said.

Students from last year’s Junior Advisory board, including seniors Sophie Allen and Serena Dajani, reminisced on their experiences.

“I personally enjoyed the planning more than the actual event which is what I expected. It’s such a unique experience too especially since a lot of other schools don’t have the venue that we do,” Allen said. “Our school is so beautiful which gives us a lot of room to be [experimental] with our themes,” Allen said.

One of the biggest parts that anyone who helped put prom together will remember was the moment they walked in on prom night to see it in action.

“I walked into prom and I was amazed because it’s very different during the day when you’re setting up, and at night, the lights are all on. It was beautiful,” Dajani said.

“I was really proud, I thought it was really pretty. It was cool to see everyone else enjoying it and to see everyone who wasn’t a part of the process walk in and look so excited,” Allen said.

“Watching their faces when they c[a]me in and they’re like “I did this,” is why I don’t let parents help because then it becomes the parents who did it and it’s about the students,” Smith said.

This sole experience is the reason why students choose to join Junior Advisory Board.

“For anyone who’s even thinking about [joining Junior Advisory Board] they should definitely do it,” Allen said.

“Think outside the box, even if you think you’re idea is crazy, it might really bring together prom or an aspect of it,” Dajani said.

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