Milestone goes undercover: Behind the scenes of After Prom

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While prom is a beloved tradition that gives high school students a chance to live their fairy tale night, at McNick the more popular event does begin until after the stroke of midnight. After-Prom is a high school student’s heaven, complete with inflatables, tie-dying, prizes, and free food. When the students begin to arrive at midnight after a long night of dancing, they find the halls of McNicholas completely transformed. What many of them may not stop and think about is just how much work and preparation goes into making After-Prom as successful as it is.

Set-up Friday Night

This year’s event was circus-themed, thanks to the generous help of McNicholas alumnus Dave Wiliker who owns Cincinnati Circus. About 50 parent volunteers came out to help with the set-up, which officially started at five. Going with the ‘big top’ theme, the front entrance and lobby were decked out in traditional red and white stripes. A tarp had to be laid in the gym to prepare for the arrival of the inflatables and circus equipment early the next day. Senior hall was decorated with pictures of each member of the senior class dressed up with clown hats and red noses, and there was also a graffiti wall, where students could draw or sign the black papered wall with chalk and silver sharpies. Mr. Frank Lowden’s social studies classroom became a hospital ward, with a life size version of the classic game Operation.  The S.A.I.L. room was redone rainbow style, being transformed into the tie-dye room. Finally, the lobby bathrooms were decorated in a cotton candy theme for the ladies and a red, white and blue theme for the gentlemen. The entire set up ended around 11 p.m.

Preparations on Saturday

On Saturday afternoon, Wiliker and many of his employees began bringing their circus to life. The gym was filled with inflatables, a German wheel, and a trapeze, so student would be able to try flying high, circus style. The library was set up with an inflatable Twister game and a life-size chessboard.  Finally, in the café there were numerous carnival style games and a knife throwing station, which one of the Cincinnati Circus employees gave lessons at at all times. As it got closer to midnight, food began to arrive from Chick-Fil-A, Moe’s, and La Rosa’s. There were also Starbucks drinks and a Kona Ice machine available for use. Parent volunteers arrived early to make final preparations before the students began to arrive at midnight. Throughout the different shifts, there were at least 70 parent volunteers sacrificing their sleep to create a special and safe night for the students.

Event Coordinator and McNick parent Del Ehemann said the PTSA starts planning the event each year in July, a full nine months before Prom, and she was very excited about how well it turned out. “I love to see it all come together,” Ehemann said. “We want to make sure everyone has a safe, fun place to go after prom. We try to find fun things that are different that the students wouldn’t normally have access to.”

Ehemann said the PTSA spent money from their budget for the event but also received thousands of dollars in donations to help provide a safe After-Prom option. The entire preparation, event, and tear down process took more than 30 hours. Ehemann said that while it is a lot of work, it is definitely worth it to see the students’ reactions to the final product and how much fun they have at the event.  “I’ve been doing it for so many years [as a teacher at Highlands High School], and now I get to do it for my own kids,” Ehemann said.

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