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Prom season arrives

Starts Saturday with South

POSTED: April 13, 2013 12:16 a.m.
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Leandra Bizzarro takes a dress off the rack during the South Forsyth High prom fashion show that the school’s DECA club put on earlier this year. South’s prom is Saturday, the first of the 2013 season.

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Dresses, corsages, tuxedoes and limousines. Photos, dancing and dinner.

Long a rite of passage for high school students, the annual tradition that is prom season has arrived.

Starting Saturday with South Forsyth, the county’s five public high schools will hold their 2013 proms over the next four weekends.

“[The students] get caught up in being a sophisticated adult for an evening,” said Vanessa Behler, teacher and prom sponsor for the past nine years at North Forsyth High. “It’s that Cin­derella moment that even the boys appreciate.”

But the special night doesn’t come without some dangers. That’s why, said principal Jeff Cheney, South invited guest speaker Chris Sandy to talk to students about the perils of alcohol and driving under the influence.

Sandy killed an elderly couple in 2000 after crashing into their vehicle while he was driving more than twice the speed limit and under the influence of alcohol.

Cheney said the speaker was scheduled Thursday “in a timely fashion to get that message out and make them think.”

“We clearly send a message of ‘do not come to a school-sponsored event under the influence in any way’ and they know from years past that we very closely monitor as they arrive,” Cheney said. “They are very respectful and mindful to make sure they realize what our expectations are.”

While South works to ensure students stay safe, Cheney said the school hasn’t seen many problems during past proms.

And holding the event at the nearby Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, which will play host to three of the system’s five proms, also cuts down the risk of long-distance travel.

“I absolutely believe that makes it safer. It’s much, much closer and kids can carpool better and get rides and share rides,” he said. “And parents can easily just drop off and pick up ... it’s beneficial in many ways.”

South’s theme this year is Artic Glow, which Cheney said is “something cool the kids wanted to do with bright lights.”

“They get very excited about the design element of the theme and they’ve spent a great deal of time and effort into setting up and making sure it’s going to be a fun event,” he said.

Cheney said close to 500 of the $80 prom tickets have been sold this year. But it’s not just students. There will be nearly 30 adults at the prom, including law enforcement officers and administrators.

“I’ve gone every year I’ve been here,” Cheney said. “… It’s great to see the kids at special events like that, just to see the kids really appreciate us taking the time to be there.

“Even though we’re supervising them, we’re having an opportunity to see them in a different light.”

Behler has photos from her senior prom in her classroom at North.

“The backdrop for the picture is made up of chicken wire that we stuffed with tissue paper,” she said. “We’ve come a long way.”

In 2012, the school had a Hollywood theme, complete with a walk down the red carpet.

The theme for this year’s prom, set for May 4, has more of a twinkle and romantic outdoor feel.

At her own prom, Behler recalls feeling like a grown-up.

“We got to wear fancy clothes and we smelled good and we had our hair done and I want students to be able to have that same memory and be able to afford the memory,” she said.

Keeping the cost low for North’s prom is a priority for Behler, who volunteers much of her own time, as well as recruits students, teachers and parents to create all the decorations.

It cuts down on costs, but also creates ownership in the event for those who contribute time.

A decade ago, a ticket to prom was $90, but when Behler took over nine years ago, she lowered the cost, which is now $50.

Like South’s prom, North’s event will have a strong adult presence to ensure the teens stay safe.

“My first goal is to always have a safe prom and so I probably overdo it. We have five deputies in attendance,” she said. “We can only manage [the students] so much and we don’t see what they do every minute, but I can feel certain that while they’re in that environment, I can do the best I can to provide a safe and fun evening, and I credit our resource officers and the additional deputies from the county."

 

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