When Seaside students arrived at The Loft at the Red Building in Astoria for prom, the space was already dressed in swaths of lavender tulle, silver lanterns, strands of emerald green leaves, and other decorations to resemble a Neverland escape. What they didn’t see firsthand was the numerous hours of planning and labor poured into the event by just a handful of dedicated juniors.
“This is the main responsibility of the junior class office,” junior class secretary Kara Spell said, adding the event is traditionally conceptualized as a parting gift for seniors as they prepare to graduate next month.
The theme of this year’s Seaside High School prom, held May 4, was “Second Star to the Right” and each aspect of the activities leading up to the event alluded to the story of Peter Pan and fantastical Neverland as they have been presented time and again in both book and film.
With only five class officers to organize the event, the group dived into planning soon after the Associated Student Body’s major Dollars for Doernbecher’s fundraiser wrapped up in December.
“We started super early, because we all knew it was going to take a lot of time,” junior class sergeant-at-arms Emma Brown said.
The most important tasks included booking the venue, DJ, and photographer. After Seaside missed holding prom at the Red Building last year, as it was booked by another group, the school was proactive in securing the venue for this year, Brown said. They also acquired DJ “OSO Fresh” Wright, of Portland, and photographer Sara Absher.
Beyond that, Brown said, there is plenty of minutia to deal with that might easily be overlooked: Finding chaperones and getting them background checks, ordering party favors, acquiring crowns and sashes, developing a song suggestion list, selling tickets, and designing decorations.
To accomplish the work, the juniors spent numerous lunch periods meeting with their advisors, Jim Poetsch and Anne Lynes, and also working after school and on weekends.
Another critical task involved with the event is organizing the prom court of four princesses and four princes, who this year were seniors Seth Trevino, Alyssa Goin, Peyson Acree, Shelbylee Rhodes, Mason Crawford, Travis Fenton, Audrey Kunde and Annaka Garhofer.
Unlike previous years, Brown said, they conducted the election online, which generated automatic results and made the process simpler.
While the concept of prom king and queen is shrouded by negative connotations because of its stereotypical portrayal in movies and television shows, Spell and Brown don’t believe the Seaside student body approaches it in an overly competitive way that leads to drama and hurt feelings.
“I don’t think the court is as big of a deal as maybe it would be in other places,” Brown said.
However, one of the pre-prom activities that’s become tradition at the high school is announcing the court members during an assembly in a fun, entertaining way. After Trevino, Acree, Crawford and Fenton were announced as the princes, they were then dressed in fairy wings and tutus to complete an obstacle course that resulted in revealing the names of the princesses. All the obstacles were on-theme: knocking down a bowling pin, or “sinking the ship”; spinning on a pirate sword and walking the plank; and fishing with a clothes hanger hook.
At the dance, students then voted as they arrived for prom king and queen, ultimately selecting Goin and Trevino.
While putting on prom requires considerable amounts of time and hard work, many students still view it as one of the important social events that contribute to the overall high school culture and experience.
“I love getting people together and prom is a huge part of bringing people together,” Brown said, adding it also presents a rare opportunity for young people to get dressed up to dance and socialize.
She also feels being involved in school activities leads to an enriching high school experience, which is one of the reasons she joined student leadership — “so I could be involved as best I can,” she said.
While the challenge of setting up an event they have yet to experience was interesting, the juniors pulled it off.
“We have different strengths and they go together well,” Spell said, adding they weren’t faced with notable disagreements along the way. On the night of the dance, they were able to relax, except for minor duties, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“It’s fun to have ideas and see them come to life,” Brown said.