By Kiara Kunnes, Staff Writer
Junior Prom and Senior Ball are two of the biggest and most memorable nights for any high schooler. From the proposals all they way to the corsages, Prom and Ball have become a rite of passage for almost all American teenagers.
In past years, Acalanes High School has held these events on different dates. Starting next year, that will no longer be the case.
In an effort to reduce ticket prices, have a more extravagant event, and reduce the overall cost, Acalanes is combining Junior Prom and Senior Ball.
The idea of combining the two events was first proposed two years ago while the Leadership class was investigating possible options to reduce ticket prices.
“Every year there is a lot of discussion around ticket prices and there is some frustration on how much the tickets cost. We are constantly trying to cut back,” Principal Travis Bell said.
Last year, a ticket for Junior Prom cost $100 and the price of a Ball ticket ranged from $90 to $110, depending on when the ticket was purchased. A total of 329 students attended Prom and 392 students attended Ball. Out of the 392 Ball attendees, 141 were non-seniors, therefore a significant amount of the people at Ball were not seniors. The total cost of Junior Prom was roughly $38,000, while Senior Ball was $64,000. All of the funds for these events come from donations and fundraisers run by Leadership students with the help of their parent liaisons.
As a result of high overall cost for these events, Acalanes has had to downsize events in prior years.
“I think getting priced out of venues in San Francisco was an indication that we needed to have a conversation about some options,” Leadership Advisor Katherine Walton said.
According to Bell, Acalanes senior classes have always wanted their event held in San Francisco.
“I think the seniors feel really strongly that they want to have an event in the city, which I totally get since we are close by to San Francisco and there is an appeal to be in a world class city for your event, but renting a space in the city is really expensive,” Bell said.
In some cases, Prom and Ball have been restricted to only sections of a venue as opposed to having the ability to rent the full space, added Bell. As an example, this year the Senior Ball is located in a space within the Exploratorium. A combined event may allow for the rental of the full Exploratorium in the future.
In addition, the past Leadership students have had to cut completely or limit certain activities, such as changing a sit down dinner to a meal of appetizers or removing a photo booth.
Although the price of venues and activities have been an issue in the past, the combination of Senior Ball and Junior Prom will help eliminate this problem.
Bell expressed the excitement the class officers have for planning this event, even though some had initial reservations about this change.
“While there were some hesitancies at first, students wanted to look into what that would even look like. That inspired them to look at some other schools that do it and go visit those events and see what happens,” Bell said.
Last year, the current junior class officers visited Dougherty Valley to help them envision and give them ideas in what a combined Prom and Ball could look like.
“They had an ice skating rink. They had a live band, two karaoke stations, and laser tag. They had all of these activities to make sure the students are not just dancing and they can do a bunch of other activities,” Junior Class Secretary Maggie Curless said.
The class officers have not yet decided what activities Acalanes’ Junior/Senior Ball will have, but the planning process seems to be off to a great start with San Francisco City Hall already booked as their venue, and they have some ideas about what they would like this special event to include.
The Sophomore Class President Malika Haji expressed that they would like to have karaoke and laser tag.
“The sky’s the limit. They are now really excited about getting really creative. I know they have talked about having a laser tag area, which would be really fun. I know they want to have a caricaturist, and some of the standard things like a photo booth, live music plus the DJ, and doing a sit down dinner and not just having out appetizers,” Bell said.
While this change does have a significant amount of benefits, not all students are on board and both Bell and Walton acknowledged these concerns.
“Change is hard for people, and I know there are going to be students who are upset, and possibly even families are upset about it,” Bell said. “I hope they can see the benefit of what we are doing.”
Some students fear they will be losing a special moment just for their class.
“Juniors deserve their own Prom because it is their junior year and they deserve to hang out with their friends without the pressure of the seniors,” sophomore Emma Workman said. “Seniors, it is their last year and they are leaving. They deserve to have their fun with their friends.”
Other students expressed that they felt they had no voice in this decision.
“I’m not a fan of it because I feel like the students had no say in this,” Calvin Vance said. “This got me very frustrated because it’s my senior ball that is being taken away and I had absolutely no say whatsoever and to my knowledge no other students did either.”
Even though not all students are on board, there are students who are optimistic.
“I think once people actually go and see how much better it is it will change their minds for the next upcoming years,” Haji said. “I am excited for it and I think it is going to be really great.”