Olivia Kyriakopoulos & Ashley Vandergunst - Tillsonburg Prom Committee
It’s a rite of passage isn’t it?
We begin our high school days unsure and nimble, and we work up our courage and our self esteem through each year, until we hit our graduating year. The light at the end of the tunnel? Well for many of us... that night is the night of Senior Prom! So imagine the reaction of the Class of 2017 when they found out the local high school had cancelled prom.
Imagine that, a small town banning dances? (Hmmmm... sounds like a movie I once saw.)
Well, not to be outdone, a small group of seniors set up a Prom Committee, and almost immediately set out to show both the school board and the general public that this graduating class of “Millennials” could not only pull this off, but they could do it bigger, better and bolder then had ever been done before! Spearheaded by Olivia Kiriakopoulos and Ashley Vandergunst, a committee was formed.
The goal of this year's Prom is one that should go Viral. The message on each Prom invitation:
Regardless of social stature, sports affiliation, drama club, art student, social elite, etc. we all entered into these doors five years ago, alone and afraid, and we suffered through many battles together. This year's prom... we all leave here together! “No man left behind.” With an awareness of teen suicides, depression, drug use, financial hardships, etc. this group of students knew right from the beginning this year's prom would include everyone!
And here is how they needed to do it. Everyone, regardless of financial ability, would receive a limousine ride to and from the prom. Everyone would be included in a fancy dinner. Everyone would have the ability to ask for help with apparel, shoes, hairstyles, nail salons, etc.
And here is our personal favorite... in a world of social media preaching inequality, this group of tomorrow's leaders from Tillsonburg have opted to forgo the typical “Prom King and Prom Queen” ceremony, and have introduced instead “Prom Royalty,” awarding crowns to a Royal Family including King/Queen, Prince/Princess, Duke/Duchess, Count/Countess and Baron/Baroness. Each category asked students be nominated for such things as grades, sports, involvement, class clown, and more. This way, we show the world that excelling in shop class can be just as rewarding as quarterbacking the football team, or that an average student focusing on philanthropy can be equally as rewarding as cheerleader.
A Facebook page has been set up where students can write in to request assistance for purchasing anything from shoes to neck ties, to a simple hair styling the day of Prom. These requests are reviewed by a parent council and kept 100 per cent anonymous, with the sole purpose of including everyone.
Prom Council received fundraising assistance from many local businesses, and was fortunate enough to partner with one local business which specializes in big events just like these. The students were able to work with Sammy Krenshaw's (a local restaurant and entertainment venue) to host a Teen Dance in the fall. Sammy’s was kind enough to close the regular business for a night and play host to over 200 students. This proved to be a profitable fundraiser for the committee, and the vision for Prom was formed!
A series of three more dances followed through the year, and the fundraising goals were met. As it proved to be a popular spot for this type of event, the owners of Sammy Krenshaw's, along with a few parent council and students, decided to host the event right there.
The theme for the night will be “THE GREAT GATSBY,” known for lavish parties and theatrics. Each student will arrive to prom via limousine, and each will arrive to a doorman guiding them onto the red carpet. The venue will section off the sidewalk to produce a “red carpet affair” similar to a night at the Oscars. Parents and townspeople alike, will be invited to stand nearby to create the “press gallery” and the students will enter into a completely transformed venue filled with glitz and glamour.
A lavish dinner will be provided by Beres Catering for every ticket holder, and at 10:30 p.m. the students will emerge onto the street where a stage will await them. This is the moment of truth... the moment when we celebrate Prom Royalty. The ceremony will be presided over by both Mayor Stephen Molnar and Deputy Mayor Dave Beres, and then, in a prom unlike any other prom this town has ever seen, the students will gather on the street and say their final farewells at 11 p.m. to a cascade of fireworks over Broadway.
And now we would like to introduce you all to this year's nominees for Prom Royalty.
A good student who gets involved in clubs or sports, friendly, approachable, helps others, is a leader.
Nominees: Devon Outerbridge, Matt Meharg, Brock Hussey, Kenny Yu, Bryce Evens.
The 'Prince' category is the same as 'King.'
Nominees: Patrick MacDougall, Matt Meharg, Nick Lanthier, Kenny Yu, Domenico Caporicci.
A 'Duke' is a good student, classy, not one for gossip or trouble, a student who is kind to all.
Nominees: Brandon Nevill, Jeremy Avery, Ian Ploss, Zachary Rachar, Ethan Scruton.
The 'Knight' category is reserved for our athletes.
Nominees: Jack Demaree, Alex Sutherland, Devon Outerbridge, Hunter Tandy, Connor Depodesta.
Class clowns, party animals, all round fun guys.
Nominees: Tyler Wernham, Cassius Bailey, Shayne Bartram, Jarrod Winters.
A good student who gets involved in clubs, sports, is friendly, approachable, helps others, is a leader.
Nominees: Melissa Mann, Olivia Kyriakopoulos, Ashley Vandergunst, Kira Slattery, Hannah Purser.
Same as Queen.
Nominees: Ashley Vandergunst, Olivia Kyriakopoulos, Kelsey Sanderson, Hannah Gilmore, Emily Nobbs.
Good student, classy, not one for gossip or trouble, a student who is kind to all.
Nominees: Emily Debackere, Sarah Long, Ashlyn Kernaghan, Jasmine Bull, Brittany Bell.
Athletes - a woman who gets involved and is known for sports.
Nominees: Mackenzie Lindie, Kelsey Sanderson, Melissa Mann, Emma Boyle, Janelle Klosler.
Your all around party girl, fun in school and at parties. Just a great friend type.
Nominees: Laura Cross, Kenzie Vandescheur, Natalie Swayze, Alexis Seymour, Emily Kamermans.
SUPPORT THE PROM
Prom 2017 will take place Friday, May 26, at Sammy Krenshaw's. We gladly invite townspeople, parents, students and more to surround the area at 51 Broadway at 10:30 p.m. to share with us the show of fireworks (11 p.m.) and Prom Royalty.
Although we have been successful in our fundraising efforts, we would still like to call on any individuals or businesses that may be willing to donate gifts or services to help those who may need assistance. Hair styling, Manicures, Florists, Men's wear, Ladies wear, Shoe stores, Tanning beds, Photographers, gift cards for accessories, or anything that may help. We are also on the lookout for an old car reminiscent of Gatsby era (1920s), and a vintage couch or cast iron bathtub for photo backdrops.
For the Red Carpet arrival, we would love to include messages of hope, encouragement and logos from participating businesses. No donation would be too small, and we can promise that it will go to a truly worthy cause - a group of students who looked travesty in the eyes and bonded together as a whole to show the school board and the “Millennial doubters” that we will prevail.
Thank you Tillsonburg!
Sincerely, Graduating Class of 2017
(Any person or business interested in helping can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).