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Prom tradition still a big deal

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 9:43 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 9:52 a.m. CDT
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Dani Scanlan and Justin Smith wait to lead the couples for Hiawatha's Grand March Saturday.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
Hiawatha senior Dakota Quimby surprised his date, Savanna Campbell, with flowers
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
From left, Dani Clark, Carl Nelson, Will Corn and Ashley Tamraz share a moment before Hiawatha's prom last Saturday.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
James Haberstich dances with Amanda Dreas.
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(Doug Oleson - doleson@shawmedia.com)
From left to right, first time promers from Genoa-Kingston High School are: Jake Petersen, Jessica Tinoco, Krysta Roberts, Coty Waxman, Luke Harman, Audrey Harjung, Quint Leitsch and Donny Gorell.

Jaclyn Butler was expecting her boyfriend to ask her to the prom, but with a little catch.

“She made me ask her in a cute way,” Tyeler L’Huillier said. So the Genoa-Kingston High School junior wrote “prom” on a Post-it note and put it in the visor of her car.

“I told her she had something in her eye (so she’d look),” he said.

According to DeKalb High School prom adviser Christine Vest, that has become a traditional part of prom.

“The pressure seems to be on the guys to use their creative genius to ask a girl in a creative fashion,” she said.

“All the girls want to be asked creatively,” DeKalb senior Andrew Stratton said. “And all the boys want to do it in a memorable way.”

“It’s kind of a guy’s job to do it,” G-K senior Quinn Anderson agreed.

When he asked junior Riley Sulaver, Anderson sang her a song, then lighted some fireworks.

“I didn’t expect it, but it was very cool,” Sulaver said.

One student dropped ice at a girl’s feet and said, “Since the ice has been broken, do you want to go to prom?” Other students, who worked at a local pizza restaurant, spelled out prom with a question mark on their date’s pizza.

“It isn’t just the boys asking the girls, though,” Hiawatha prom adviser Maria Carroll said. “It seems to be pretty close to equal.”

What hasn’t changed is the significance of prom to most teenagers.

“It’s a huge deal,” Stratton said. “It’s one of the most memorable nights of high school.”

“It’s our last hurrah,” Hiawatha senior Lauren Leffelman added. “Until graduation.”

“It’s bittersweet,” her senior classmate Abigail Turner said after her third prom.

“For me, it was more of a big deal my junior year,” DHS senior Natalie Sheehan said. “I went last year. It wasn’t the magic moment like in the movies.”

Maybe because Genoa is a smaller community, G-K prom adviser Tara Wilkins said it’s still a big community-wide event. “There’s a buzz in the hall,” she said before the prom, which was held at Giovanni’s in Rockford last Friday night. “We used to rotate it between several locations, but last year we decided to keep doing it at Giovanni’s.”

For safety measures, Wilkins added that any student who had signed up for the prom but hadn’t shown up by 7 p.m. is called to see if they’re all right.

Kirkland, Indian Creek and Hinckley Big-Rock held their proms last Saturday; DeKalb’s is this weekend and Sycamore’s is on May 18.

For the first time, Carroll said Hiawatha held its grand march in the high school gym before moving the party to the Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb. “This is a community affair with not only parents coming out to see the students, but community members as well,” she said.

In most high schools, the junior class runs the prom. Most schools, which have different policies on which students can attend prom, also have a king and queen court elected by the students.

“It’s a big deal for our students,” Indian Creek principal Sarah Montgomery said. “I would say it is as important as our homecoming king/queen, and in some ways a little more special since we have the grand march and a very large number of people there.”

Not only do the students dress up, with some gowns reportedly going for as much as $600, but some choose to arrive in style, such as in a limousine.

“We’re riding in style, and it’s classy,” said G-K junior Krysta Roberts, who shared a beautiful white stretch limo with seven of her classmates, all of whom were attending for the first time.

“This is our busiest time of the year,” Debbie Ferrent of B & B Limo in Elgin said, adding that she usually picks up the students at a home, drops them off at the prom, then transfers them to their post-prom party. For G-K students, that was at Coco Keys, an indoor water park.

In an effort to one up everyone, a group of 18 G-K students arrived in a white mini-bus they rented from Scott Suchy. “We wanted to come in a limousine-type thing,” Anderson said. “But this is more unique.”

“As an adviser, probably the neatest part of my job is seeing the young people transform into these young ladies and gentlemen,” Wilkins said. “You see a different side of them. It’s a cool night.”

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