Behind the Scenes of Prom

By: Andrea Morelos

FSSA’s prom venue in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

As the weeks of rain and 40° weather come to an end in New York City, summer’s creeping up fast on the 2023 seniors at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA). All throughout the halls, the anticipation for the most American high school tradition builds along with the heat of the new season, and everyone seems to only be talking about one thing: PROM. From 7pm to 12am on June 15th, FSSA seniors will get the chance to dance the night away inside the Terrace on the Park venue in Flushing Meadows, Corona. But aside from the chatter of dresses, dates, rental suits and nail appointments, what’re some of the prom planning details and what are FSSA students saying about the event?

A student can expect their seat at the prom to be secured as soon as Mrs. Castro receives their ticket payment of $150. After their contribution, the students aren’t really filled in on where their money goes and how the entire party is orchestrated.

Without giving away the stock of prom surprises for the June night, Ms. Pridgen, assistant principal of guidance, walked through a couple of the most interesting and unheard-of party details.

She says that for many years, FSSA had always held their prom at the Water’s Edge, a dazzling venue in Long Island City, overlooking the East River and the Queensboro Bridge. 

“Unfortunately, the Water’s Edge closed abruptly in 2015, and we had to find a new venue for the prom. We started having the prom at Terrace On The Park, a venue that would provide an atmosphere for a special and beautiful prom,” she says.

The venue location has not changed since 2015. As for the actual set up at the venue, no additional decorations or prep is done on behalf of the FSSA staff, but Ms. Pridgen makes sure to arrive at the venue hours before the event to greet the vendors. Even after the chaos of the party, the school staff does no post-party work.

“There is no clean up committee needed. The staff at the venue will take care of the clean up,” she says.

Though FSSA staff members don’t take care of the venue themselves, Ms. Pridgen informs that many employees and teachers can still make a presence at the event.

 “All Frank Sinatra staff members are invited to attend the prom Cocktail Hour. Staff members love to come celebrate with the students at the prom, even if it’s just for an hour,” she says.

Much of the school community show up to the party for fun, but a handful of those staff members serve as chaperones for the night, watching over the students and ensuring that the ruckus remains reasonable. There’s a limited number of chaperones invited to the prom each year. Student requests for the staff members most wanted at prom are typically voiced to Ms. Pridgen herself.

The real surprises in store for the students will remain a secret until the night of the prom, but students can expect a DJ, food and drinks, and a special party favor. To many students, the price tag of $150 seems ridiculous for a single night, but the cost of a students’ prom ticket directly pays off all of these (and more) party details . The ticket cost covers the payments for the venue, vendors, and entertainment. There is absolutely no profit made from the ticket payment for prom.

Students are planning their Prom outfits.

However, much of the FSSA community agrees that no matter how many prom surprises there may be, the price itself prohibits a lot of students from attending. The deadline for payments was originally the 2nd of May, and students who checked in with Mrs. Castro two days before the deadline were baffled to hear the lack of popularity in the event.

“Actually, we only have 64 people who have paid for prom. And that’s including the couple people who have paid for two tickets,” says Mrs. Castro.

The deadline was then changed to May 17th in a final attempt to gather more of a crowd. Following up a week later, Mrs. Castro reports 183 sold tickets, more than half of the FSSA Senior population.  The amount of people opting out of prom isn’t surprising. The payment is in addition to the cost of senior dues and the optional senior trip.

“It adds up. It’s $530 for everything, if you think about it,” Mrs. Castro says.

And that price doesn’t include the cost of dresses, transportation, hair, make up, shoes, nails and other side expenses many students deem necessary.

Nathan McBride, a senior vocal major who’s teetering on the choice between showing up and missing out, says he wishes prom costs were lowered.

“I can pay $20 to go to the beach with my friends instead of $150 for a few hours inside a party. [Prom] is definitely not a privilege everyone has, but it’s also once in a lifetime,” he says.

Jordyn Benda, a senior film major who bought her prom dress as early as February 2023, says she would personally never miss out.

For many, prom is a must-do bucket list item before high school graduation. For others, it’s a waste of money.

Nevertheless, the FSSA staff promise a night full of memories, fun, and laughter for those who do decide to go, claiming it  “a night to remember” long after graduation day.