Plug pulled on post-prom party for Poolesville High School students
PTSA: Parents, students and community did not support the event
Two days before Poolesville High School's post-prom event, scheduled for Friday night, PTSA organizers canceled the party.
"It was a decision we didn't make lightly," PTSA President Stephanie Egly said.
With only 39 tickets sold, organizers thought students were not going to come. The school has 536 juniors and seniors.
Organizers had to give vendors at least 48 hours notice to get money refunded, said post-prom chairwoman Lisa Guertin.
Clarksburg High School became the first county public school to cancel a post-prom event when it made the decision in March, a month before the prom.
No other schools have canceled post-prom parties, said Meg Baker, co-president of Montgomery County Project Prom/Graduation Inc. The group is a coalition of parents that has helped public and private schools plan post proms since 1992.
"A cancellation creates a domino effect, affecting the services that MCPP/G has arranged for each school event," Baker said.
When Egly's 26-year-old daughter was a high school senior, the post prom was a big deal, the PTSA president said. Attendance has gone down in recent years and parents are hosting private parties instead, she said.
"In the past, parents said, Go to post prom or you go home,'" she said.
Baker said she could not speculate about what happened in Poolesville.
"We do not know why this group of youth and parents do not support a healthy, safe activity such as the post prom," she said.
Tickets went on sale May 3, Guertin said. She set up a table beside the prom ticket table during lunch and after school. Long lines of students formed to buy prom tickets, she said.
Post-prom tickets cost $15.
"I asked around," Guertin said. "Students said they weren't interested; they had their own agenda."
Students might have been waiting until the last minute to buy tickets, said Student Government Association President Zack Zapata, a senior.
"Some of my peers are a little disappointed," he said.
Guertin said she heard students were disappointed with last year's post prom, so she planned to have more activities and more food. Entertainment included a disc jockey, money machine, a bungee run, a boot camp obstacle course and a moon bounce, she said.
There was little advertising, just a few posters around the school, so students were not aware of the changes, Zapata said.
Like last year's party, post prom was to be staged at the Germantown Recreation Center, so it would be convenient for the 60 percent of Poolesville High School families that do not live in Poolesville, Egly said.
Post prom attendance around the county averages 80 to 85 percent of prom-goers, said Karen Bashir, co-president of Montgomery County Project Prom/Graduation Inc.
Post prom offers teenagers a safe, unique, substance-free, all-night experience that would be difficult for them to plan on their own, according to the group's website.
"If you go expecting it to be boring then that is what you will experience," Baker said. "Let's shift the responsibility of expectation to the youth."
Parents who volunteer to organize the post prom want to offer a fun-filled night to extend the specialness of the prom evening, she said.
"It takes much time and preparation to put all the pieces together. I should think it would be an insult to that group when they do not receive the backing of their own community," Baker said. "The noncommittee parents should at least be supportive of their peers."
Parents and community businesses were not supporting the Poolesville party, Guertin said. She had sent more than 520 letters asking for donations.
The PTSA had given Guertin an $11,000 budget and she had received $3,000 in donations. She was counting on ticket sales to make up the difference.
"I believe if we had more support from the community and from parents, this could have been more successful," Guertin said.
The PTSA planned to discuss the future of post prom at a Tuesday night meeting, Egly said.
hosting a successful post-prom party
Do your best to make your after-prom event more interesting, more inviting, more rewarding and more memorable than whatever a group of resourceful teenagers are likely to be able to pull off on the same night.
Actively promote your event at school, as well as directly to the parents and the local business community, before students start planning their own parties.
Source: Montgomery County Project Prom/Graduation Inc.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly spelled PTSA President Stephanie Egly's name.