Financial Realties Hinder But Do Not Deter Prom Goers
By Elizabeth Cayouette-Gluckman
Friday night was the first of many significant class-bonding events for the Class of 2017. It was their junior prom, which kicked off the prom season for many high school students.
Prom has come to be a costly affair for many, with ever-rising price tags on dresses, tuxes, makeup and hair. Prom dresses are apt to cost upwards of $300, making them a financial burden for many Salem High girls. Hair and makeup appointments can cost over $40, depending on the salon. Tux rentals come in at about $150 or more, depending on the quality of the tux.
These costs are added to the ticket price of between $50 and $60, making prom simply too expensive for many Salem High students. This year’s junior prom sold about 100 fewer tickets than that of 2015’s, the class that last used the Peabody Marriott venue. Senior class advisor Dean Michelini notes, “the cost adds up, so a lot of them didn’t have or want to spend that much money.”
When faced with such a weighty cost many students can only afford to attend one prom in their high school career, and so prioritize the senior prom over the junior prom.
Class of 2017 Vice-President Jaden Oliver points out that “until the day of the announcement, we only had 50 tickets sold. We needed to sell 130 to not lose money.” Oliver is referring to an emergency assembly called by Mr. Michelini, who explained to the class how vital it was they purchase tickets, in order to stay on track and have sufficient funds for their senior year activities.
The class almost made it to that mark, but will not be leaving the prom in the green this year. This was a blow to the juniors, who rely on the prom as a make or break fundraiser.
The low admission is partially due to the falling numbers of students at Salem High School. Enrollment has dropped under 1000, making it difficult to sell the number of tickets needed for the class to come out even, let alone make the desired profit. Only juniors can purchase tickets, though they can bring a date from another grade, which also limits the number of students who can attend.
Despite the challenges the prom posed, the class officers and advisors pulled together a remarkable prom. Secretary Jess Jellison discloses that the class had to “start fundraising early so we had money for everything.” This was especially important considering the amount of money classes are expected to pay up front; she also explains that the officers had to juggle date changes due to SATs and a colorguard competition. Jellison goes on to add that “Mr. Michelini was really good, he really was on top of getting everything booked and planned which was really helpful.”
Michelini recalls that he “had to explain that we’re a low income district,” to the representatives at the Marriot, in order to work with them on more affordable pricing. Teachers at the school have pitched in to help students attend the prom. Ms. Kontos is running a prom dress shop out of a classroom. Other teachers have pitched in to pay for a few tickets for students who could not afford the ticket price, as well as those of the three foreign exchange students.
Salem High wants our students to have a successful prom, and is working hard to make that happen. However, the financial realities of the students make it difficult to have prom be a successful fundraiser. Prom is “a good way for the class to get together, where we can all have fun, but it’s a fun-raiser,” clarifies Oliver.
It is clear that tremendous amount of work is put into making a prom happen, both in terms of planning and in encouraging attendance. Class officers Sarah Starion, Jared Lubas, Jaden Oliver, Jessica Jellison, Xavier Cole, and class advisors Mr. Michelini and Mr. Gevorgyan have put in the time to make prom a fun event. Though financial realities made it nearly impossible for the class to make money on this prom, these individuals maintained their hope and composure and were rewarded with a fantastic night.