Puffy sleeves for prom are out, but so are high heels.
“Last year, I know a girl who wore bedazzled cleats. Not one person is wearing heels that I know of,” said Jenna Miles, who will be attending the Portage High School prom Saturday wearing floral print sneakers.
The 17-year-old junior grimaced while holding up her mom’s lavender dress from the 1985 PHS prom with the theme Moonlight Serenade. At the time, Sue Kronenberg was dating senior LeRoy Miles who is now her husband.
On Tuesday, Miles paged through a Portage Tuner High School yearbook looking back at what’s changed — beyond the hair — as her daughter prepares for “Hollywood: A Walk on the Red Carpet,” this year’s prom theme.
“I picked this dress because I liked the puffy arms and there was a little hoop under there and gloves were kind of the thing. The guys were wearing top hats and canes,” Miles said, who is one of 30 parents active in organizing the post-prom party.
“We would drive around, maybe go to different people’s houses but never planned things like post-prom. We would be out all night and then get breakfast,” she said.
This year, Martha Bear wanted to make sure there was a post-prom for her daughter Madison to attend after reflecting on her son’s experience.
“I became involved in post-prom for a couple reasons. Primarily, that when my son went to prom in 2011 there was not one main party that a kid could go to that was fairly organized and guaranteed to be substance-free,” Bear said. “He was on the prom court and simply decided it was probably a better choice to just come home.
“At the time, I remembered feeling bad that I had not tried to help organize something bigger for the kids to give them a more inclusive, safe alternative to the many prom parties out there,” she said.
“The other reason is that I teach driver’s ed and have seen the statistics out there for teen drivers. Every year, we can expect hundreds of teenage deaths and thousands of injuries during prom and graduation season. Although these numbers are down since the 80s, we still can do better.”
Friends Jenna and Madison are on the prom court and will be riding in a coach bus with 48 of their classmates to Wisconsin Dells for dinner. Apparently, even the invitation to prom is an event in itself.
“I’m going with one of my best friends since kindergarten Austin Davies and he asked me in a way that was really adorable,” Madison said. “He was at my house and spelled out prom using candles with a question mark at the end. It was adorable and he had flowers and a cute little note that said, ‘Will you brighten my day and glow to prom with me?’”
“The guys are really going all out this year and they’ve asked in some really cute ways,” she said
Junior Evan Walz also made an impression on his date.
“He made me a little book of memories and pictures of each other and he said, ‘Lets make more memories,’” Jenna said.
Using technology for prom also became part of the annual dance. Jenna made a private Facebook page for junior girls to post photographs of their dresses so no one would wear the same one.
“Nobody has the same color even,” Jenna said.
The Grand March is at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday and open to spectators for $2.
“All that money goes back toward decorations. We really try to keep it cost-affordable as possible,” said Sarah Pulliam, social studies teacher and prom adviser with fellow teacher Elizabeth Hansen. “And, if there’s ever been a kid who couldn’t afford we’d give them a ticket --the same goes for post-prom — we want everybody to be involved,”
The post-prom party will be from midnight to 3 a.m. at Tolly’s Alleys in Portage. For $10, students can expect prizes, food, karaoke, a trivia contest, cards, bowling and more. If students have yet to sign up, they can pay $15 at the door until 12:45 a.m. However, there has to be a signed permission slip, too.
“Many (parents) have made financial contributions on top of paying to get their kids to prom because they know how important it is to keep them safe ... It’s a lock-in, so students will not be allowed to come and go. If they do leave, we call their parent,” Bear said.
Some of the prizes include a TV, an iPad Mini, a Kindle Fire and countless more. Students also held several fundraisers to help build up the after-party, Bear said.
“They probably raised over $1,000 and I think it sends a strong message that the kids want this kind of party and the businesses and community have been wonderful in supporting it,” she said.
Donations of gift cards, prizes or cash for the post-prom party are still needed. Any person or business wanting to contribute can contact Martha Bear at 742-8211.