Roaring ‘20s take over Owen High prom night

Barbara Hootman

The senior prom is alive and well at Owen High School. The May 15 event promises to be one of the most memorable social evenings of high school for some 300 students this year.

“It’s fun, and I am excited about it, although I am stressed about is everything going to go as planned,” junior class president Samantha “Sam” Parham said. “I went to prom last year, so I know a little of what to expect.”

Mary Gibeau, junior class vice president, is also excited.

“I am looking forward to hanging out with my friends, getting ready and seeing everyone dressed up and on their best behavior,” she said. “I am going to prom with a best friend. It is exciting because we don’t see each other dressed up often.”

Prom is no small fete to pull off - each junior class spends three years planning the Owen High prom.

“We raise all the money that is spent with events throughout the years,” Parham said. “This prom is costing around $9,000, and the school doesn’t have to pay any money. We are aware that some adults feel we could spend the money in a better way, but we choose to have a senior prom and do it right.”

Visa conducted a national survey that claims 56 percent of prom costs are covered by parents, with 44 percent paid by their kids. The same survey showed that the national cost of prom night was $978.

The theme of 2015 prom is “The Roaring ‘20s.” The Venue in downtown Asheville was reserved a year in advance with a deposit.

“The junior class also provides desserts, snack foods, soft drinks, a photo booth, another photo area with a professional photographer, and a shuttle from the parking area,” class sponsor Julianne Sehy said. “It has been as exciting for me as it has been for the students throughout the preparation.”

No longer is prom held in a school gymnasium transformed into a party scene with crepe paper. Decorations at Owen, including life-size Roaring ‘20s cutouts, are much more elaborate than in the past.

Prom is a formal event, with neat and clean footwear (work boots and house slippers are not permitted). It is also a tightly controlled event. All students pay $40-$50 and present ID to enter (there are no refunds). Outside guests undergo background checks. All gowns have to be approved (no see-through fabric in revealing areas and no plunging necklines). Slits and backless dresses must be modest and not reveal private areas when seated or standing. Cutouts are allowed on sides and backs only. Owen High administration supervises prom night. Suits, tuxedos and formal military dress are acceptable male dress.

Then there is the cost of limousines, dinner reservations and corsages. Creating a night to remember carries a price tag.

“Last year my grandmother spent about $800 on my dress and accessories,” Parham said. “I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t listen. I am going to sell the dress on Ebay, and this year I have spent about $350 on a black, elegant dress and pearls. It has a modest slit. My mom and best friends went with me to pick it out.

“We went to a mall in Charlotte and had a nice day trip out of it. I have shoes from last year. So I don’t have to go barefoot on a dirty floor I am taking Chaco (sandals) to wear. I will probably sell this dress also, because it is foolish to wear it just once. My mom paid for it this year.”

Gibeau enjoys shopping at vintage clothing shops and found her prom dress for $42.