For most students, prom is about dancing, dates and dresses.
For Emma Kaye and her Corona del Mar High School ASB crew, it’s also about choices, contracts, and conviction. Behind all the glitz and glamour of the ultimate high school social event, the details of prom are all business.
Kaye, junior class president, was in charge of the 2011 prom committee, a group of ASB students that began planning the prom April 2010. All of their work came to fruition on Saturday at CdM’s prom at the Dana Point Ocean Institute.
“It felt really good when I got there and I saw it,” Kaye said, all their hard work had paid off.
It definitely was a lot of work, she said. In the beginning, the students knocked all the big projects off the list and then started working on all the small details.
“Towards the end it got hectic,” Kaye said.
Although there was a committee when the project first started, it kind of dissolved and ASB students either volunteered or were appointed tasks, said junior Annabel Pidgeon, who was also involved with the prom planning process.
The CdM prom featured a professional photographer for the formal shots, teacher photographer taking “action” dance shots, magician, caricature artist, karaoke machine, s’mores bar, DJ and swing band.
And they all needed contracts. The teacher chaperones, students and guest attendees all needed contracts as well.
The bulk of the work was done by October, Kaye said. The invitations, the crowns and the king’s robe were all ordered in December, Pidgeon said.
The next couple months included a lot of back and forth with the contracts. And then decisions about all the other little details like colors, student contracts, putting the tickets online and everything else prom-related.
“It was a big task,” Kaye said.
It was a real-life working experience, she said, and she learned how to work with independent companies and vendors and draw up contracts, how to stay polite, yet tough and get the job done, how to manage a large project and team, among other things.
She had to come up with ideas, listen to feedback from ASB director Gary Almquist and other students, and make executive decisions.
The hardest part of the process was dealing with certain adults that weren‘t very responsive, Kaye said, especially if she had to negotiate a contract and time was of the essence. She had to be polite, yet stern.
“That was probably the most challenging,” Kaye said. “I wanted to represent our school well and not be rude, but I also had to get things done.”
In the end, it all worked out.
The venue tours were her favorite part during the whole process, Kay said. Well, that and the feedback she got from other students after prom.
“This is really good.”
“Best. Dance. Ever.”
Creating a prom event that the students enjoyed and seeing it completed was a nice reward for all their hard work.
“It was great seeing it all put together,” Pidgeon said.
Hopefully other students could see that a lot of effort went into the planning process, she added.
“I think they noticed that there was a lot of work that went into it,” Kaye said, “but I don’t know if they realize all the little stuff that goes into it (too).”
Little things like writing up the contracts for the teacher chaperones or the process of getting the tickets to be sold online.
While dealing with all the behind-the-scenes business work of prom, Kaye, Pidgeon and the other ASB juniors and seniors had to also think about their own personal plans for prom.
“I’ve been spending more time actually planning the prom than planning for my (date) at prom,” Kaye said.
Some students had been thinking about prom day for months while others had only been thinking about it recently.
“Not that long to be honest,” said junior Jillian Kingkade about how long she had been planning for prom.
The guys are usually in charge of plans for the night, Kaye, Kingkade and fellow junior Brandy McCellan agreed, some of which was thought of a few months prior, some just the week before.
Some details are left to the last minute, Kaye found her dress by chance in LA recently, bought her shoes the day before, and McClellan got her date’s boutonniere the morning of the prom.
Although they agree that they will probably put more thought into it next year, when they’re seniors.
Senior Kati Burke and junior Megan Richter agreed that most of planning went into making sure the appointments for hair and nails were scheduled and making sure they had enough time to get ready before the pre-party.
Pre-parties are customary for CdM prom-bound students, the girls agreed. All the students going together and their parents meet-up at one of the students’ homes, eat snacks, and take photos.
Lots and lots of photos.
They do the boutonniere and corsage exchange, have dinner and then head for the event.
Finding the right dress was different for each girl. Burke already had her dress but hadn’t worn it while Richter shopped around some. McClellan borrowed hers from a friend, Kingkade bought hers at a local shop and Kaye found hers by chance while hanging out in LA.
But all the hard work and planning was worth it, Kaye and Pidgeon agreed, to create one magical night for their high school experience.
“It was perfect,” Kaye said. “I couldn’t have imagined prom any better.”