Proms have been a rite of passage for American youth for nearly a century, but by its very nature the revelry that ensues following the formal has the potential for tragedy. Each year it seems a carload of teens perish in the flower of their youth in a drunk-driving accident, and schools across the country have taken to preserving the twisted wrecks of the past and placing them at the entrance of the school as a grim warning.
The Senior High Prom will take place this year at The Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club in Saugerties on Friday, June 3, with the post-prom party planned for Wood N Wheel Family Fun Center in Ulster Park.
Like many school districts, Saugerties has a group whose sole purpose is to come up with stuff for students to do after prom. Paul Van Schaack is president of the Saugerties High chapter of the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association), which created the Post-Prom Committee.
“It’s an alternative for kids to go after the prom, once the festivities are over and they want to get out of their gowns and tuxedos and into their regular clothes,” he said.
He wishes his class at that alternative.
“I graduated in ‘78, and after the prom was over we hung around a local diner until Lake Taconic opened up.”
The 15-member committee first met Feb. 20. At the time, the discussion centered on whether to hold it at Wood N Wheel or Bowlers Club in Saugerties. Despite the cost difference, the seniors polled preferred the former.
“The seniors voted (for Wood N Wheel) and they needed to understand that it costs more money,” Van Schaack said, adding that a series of fundraisers like car washes will involve promgoers. The committee will also be selling refreshments at the Lip Sync and will organize a Spring Fling for adults on May 21.
“We’re trying to get seniors to work in the kitchen and serve their parents,” said Van Schaack, who coincidentally, is the parent of a senior.
The senior high post-prom party costs around $5,000 for roughly 200 people. In addition to fundraiser events, the committee hopes to secure some donations from businesses, parents and community members.
The Junior Prom takes place at Hillside Manor in Kingston on Friday, May 6, with the post-prom party scheduled for Bowlers Club immediately afterward. While the junior post-prom party is less expensive, the committee is still looking for help from the community to make the evening as fun as possible for the kids.
“It’s a low-cost party because the bowling alley is donated to us, which is just phenomenal,” said principal Tom Averill. “What we try to do is raise money and donations for food and for prizes, and we hope those keep the students there and interested. A prize could be anywhere from a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift certificate to a laptop. Each year it’s different.”
Both proms end at 11 p.m., giving students an hour to make it to the post-prom party before the doors are locked. The junior post-prom party will end at 2 a.m. and the senior party and hour later. Both events will be heavily chaperoned by parents and other PTSA members.
Van Schaack said the event is both a comfort to parents and a fun destination for kids.
“It gives the parents the feeling their kids are going to be somewhere until 3 in the morning,” he said. “This is the last hoorah for seniors before they graduate. I’m not saying kids to get into trouble, but temptation is there. It’s something to give the kids an opportunity to go someplace and know they’re in a fun, safe environment.”
Students participate in organizing and fundraising. Organizers say it gives them a vested interest in the success of the event.
Both Van Schaack and Averill said the post-prom parties have been a success: students seem to enjoy it, and there haven’t been any prom-night problems in recent memory.
“We haven’t had any prom-night related issues,” Averill said. “And my secretary, who has been in the district longer than I have, said the same thing.”