With post-prom events, parents can relax and enjoy, too
Nazareth Academy's 2012 Prom Queen and King are Stephanie Janus, senior from La Grange, and Vinnie Raimondi, senior from Addison. Nazareth Academy held its prom at Drury Lane Saturday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:05AM
Details may swirl in the minds of some high school upperclassmen about prom arrangements and what to wear, but their parents aren’t losing sleep, thanks to a supervised post-prom event at many schools.
Both Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park and Lyons Township High School in La Grange sponsor buses to take students to Chicago and board the Odyssey for a luxury cruise around Lake Michigan after the formal dance.
“Back before this started, the typical scenario for LT and most high schools is that kids went to a ballroom, such as Drury Lane, and then they drove,” said Nancy O’Brien, president of LT’s Parent Teacher Council.
“There were not a lot of limos used, and those kids who chose to use alcohol were driving to dinner, to the prom and then home very early in the morning with the risk of being under the influence,” O’Brien said.
While Nazareth’s prom was held May 12 at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, all 357 participants boarded buses as part of the prom package for the Odyssey cruise, said Kate Augustyn, an English teacher serving as an all-night chaperone.
Organizers view the post-prom event, begun 15 years ago, as a way to extend a fun evening with classmates in a secure, alcohol-free environment. A bonus, Augustyn said, is the chance to enjoy Chicago’s spectacular skyline at night.
Tickets cost $200 a couple, which includes the dance and cruise. The price of photos, a DJ and the bus is subsidized by school and parent groups.
“Chaperoning is a special experience as a teacher to see my students in a different light,” Augustyn said. “Rather than being concerned about classwork and homework, the students let loose and have fun.
“Prom is one of the first times that the seniors realize their high school careers are coming to an end, and so, in that sense, the experience is a bittersweet one for them,” she said.
For LT’s prom May 31 at a Navy Pier ballroom, students have the option of boarding a bus back to the north campus in La Grange at midnight, or walking across the pier to the Odyssey. Students may not remain in Chicago on their own.
But LT’s Parent Teacher Council provides a major incentive to continue the festivities under the watchful eyes of chaperones aboard the cruise ship, O’Brien said.
Prom costs $105 per person, which includes transportation, dinner, a DJ, photographer and raffle with door prizes, and another $30 for the post-prom event with refreshments.
“It would cost almost $60 per student, if the PTC didn’t subsidize the cruise,” O’Brien said. “We have to raise between $20,000 and $25,000.”
The post-prom event is paid for through membership dues and, in the past two years, an online auction of services, products and perks donated by parents, businesses and the school.
“It’s been highly successful with the school participating and offering highly sought-after items, like extra graduation tickets or prime parking,” O’Brien said.
This year’s event is already paid for, and continuing donations are earmarked for next year’s prom. The drawing is May 18 for this year’s prizes, which include $1,500 in cash, an Odyssey cruise for adults and a Charles Vickery print.
Parents feel strongly about hosting the post-prom event to keep their kids safe on what could be the most dangerous night of the year for teens, O’Brien said. Like Nazareth, LT teachers and staff, rather than parents, chaperone.
The event, attended by about 700 students last year, started out attracting about 200 students for the first cruise 22 years ago, but has steadily increased in popularity.
“Many students go to other events the next day, such as lake houses, but having the post-prom tends to defer their departure to a reasonable time in the morning,” O’Brien said. “In the old days, kids used to take off after the prom and drive to Michigan or Wisconsin and that was even more dangerous than if alcohol was involved.”