The high school prom with the date, the dress, the dinner, and the dance often considered one of the pinnacles of the teen years has met its match: the after-prom.
Parents of upperclassmen at all seven Fulton County high schools are spending thousands of dollars on games, food, and prizes with lists topped by televisions, microwave ovens, and small refrigerators to entertain students until dawn on prom night.
It s an effort to keep teens in a supervised spot on a night known across the country for tragic statistics from teens drinking and renting hotel rooms.
We re all a lot of pro-active parents, said Pam Mack, who has daughters at Evergreen High School where she is helping organize a $9,000 after-prom.
About two-thirds of that budget is for door prizes, including a flat-screen TV. The key is that students must arrive at the post-prom at the high school soon after their prom ends at Heaherdowns Country Club. Once they enter, they cannot leave if they want a chance to win.
It s a total lock-down situation, Ms. Mack said. We hire security. Volleyball, basketball, and Texas Hold Em tournaments are planned.
Some high schools have themes for after-prom as well as prom, and most invite students who did not go to the prom to participate.
Archbold is planning an Egyptian theme: Jewel of the Night. The school has been building up to its after-prom on May 6 with games during the school lunch period on Wednesdays. Winners get an extra chance for a prize at after-prom if they attend.
Fayette has a Western theme: Eagle Ranch. There will be inflatable games as well as cards and casino games.
Pettisville is planning a jungle theme that will include a chocolate fountain.
One of the biggest efforts is at Wauseon, which rents three buildings at the Fulton County Fairgrounds for the night. One is for games such as laser tag and an obstacle course. Parents spend weeks setting up another building as a spook house that parent organizer Todd Hanson said rivals anything you d see at Cedar Point.
At Swanton, students actually go to Cedar Point the day after their prom, paying $10 each for tickets that are heavily subsidized by parent and community donations. Students are to gather at the school at 8 a.m. on May 21 the Sunday morning after the prom to eat breakfast and board buses for the park.
To be allowed to do so, however, they must sign a pledge that they will be at home by 1 a.m. on prom night. And volunteers call to check up on them.
This year, with a $5,500 budget for food, entertainment, and prizes for about 110 teens, advisers hope 85 percent of the students attending prom will stay for the entire after-prom.
At many schools after-prom students are not charged to attend after-prom; others have a small charge. But in every case the bulk of the funds are raised by parents and community members. At Evergreen, parents organized a community garage sale and sold calendars and kitchen supplies to raise money.
Archbold parents solicit businesses in the village for door prize donations. It is an undertaking, said Jodi Gerken, school secretary and mother who coordinates Archbold s after-prom. But it is for my children.