How to Handle Junior Prom at LAHS

In past years, juniors have expressed disappointment at the lack of a junior prom, and Jordan Auerbach and his friends are no exception. Over the winter break, Jordan and his friends, juniors Cooper Cornell, Tyler Grant, Kyle Godfrey, Lee Staufenbiel and Ryan Young, came up with the idea that the junior class should host its own prom. But this suggestion was no ill-thought out whim on behalf of Jordan and his friends; they decided to implement the plan and to take it a step further by using the prom as a fundraising event for a local charity.

While having both a junior prom and a senior prom separately sponsored by and paid for by the school, would simply be unfathomable due to budget issues, Jordan and the junior prom committee’s initiative to create an outside event that fulfills the gap of prom for LAHS juniors is both admirable and innovative.

Students must first understand that ASB is not going to fund a junior prom, and they should understand why — the budget cannot accommodate. So while students should not stop being excited for the chance to celebrate on their own at the Elks Club this year, it is not realistic to assume that a group like that of Jordan and his friends and family will be as passionate about the prom every year. Juniors should celebrate the prom they are being provided this year, but should realize that it is not implementable by our school, which has an annual prom budget of $40,000, and that the school’s current handling of prom is actually the most inclusive.

In regard to the new junior prom, Jordan and his group began to plan for the dance they wanted to provide to the students with full support from his parents, David and Lisa Auerbach, who volunteered to fund the dance.

“Honestly, I expected once they realized how much work they were signing up for that their bubble would burst and they’d lose interest,” Lisa Auerbach said. “In fact, it’s been quite the opposite, they’ve picked up steam and we meet almost every Sunday to keep the schedule on track.”

The school traditionally holds a senior prom only, and with the current budget, there is not enough money to fund two separate proms. The existence of this privately run junior prom raises an interesting question; should the school have a combined junior/senior prom in order to provide LAHS juniors with a chance at prom like juniors at many other school receive?

This could absolutely be a possibility. While the school has never hosted junior prom, doing so is feasible if our financial system is altered. For example, Mountain View High School (MVHS) has a combined junior/senior prom every year. Rather than the funds coming from class council fundraisers and the event being planned by the class president, prom at MVHS is entirely organized by members of ASB. They have a prom commissioner and a dance commissioner, who work on organizing the event.

“What Mountain View does is alternate between a larger budget and a smaller budget [every year], and it just [determines] whether or not your venue can be farther away, but there are still nice venues [nearby],” MVHS dance commissioner junior Leah Lam said. “[The budget] doesn’t really correlate with how nice the venue is, it just means that on the big budget years you pick a farther location, which means you have to provide transportation.”

While it is true that members of other grades can attend the LAHS senior prom, they must be guested by a senior. Not everyone who wants to go to the prom has senior friends or a connection with a senior, which leaves some people feeling excluded.

“The benefit of having a combined junior/senior prom is just that you have more people there and a lot of people have mixed grade friend groups,” Leah said. “And I don’t think that at either high school [it’s] like a special graduation dance where it’s just seniors, because people often bring their friends or significant others from other high schools or from other grades.”

Holding a combined prom would mean having more people, and having more people is, many times, simply more fun. It also allows more people to be involved, which is always a wonderful thing and one of the main priorities of the school — to make people feel included. The logistics, however, could lead to some issues.

A senior prom, which the school currently offers, is more realistic than a combined prom in terms of planning and execution. Due to lower ticket prices with a senior prom alone, prom would be more accessible to students, some of whom still need scholarship to attend. If LAHS was to sponsor a junior prom in addition to a senior prom, not only would ticket prices hike for both events, but the opportunity for scholarships might be hindered. It is extremely important that everyone at our school, regardless of their economic status, can attend prom. Because LAHS only holds one prom, it is practically guaranteed that anybody who wants to attend prom will be able to. As of now, the tickets start out at $75 farthest in advance, and over time they increase in regular increments up to $100.

“At Los Altos, we always cap it at $100,” senior class president Jenny Chin said. “This is something [former assistant principal] Ms. Dawson really stood up for, that every kid at Los Altos would be able to attend these school functions put on by ASB. And so we’re just never going to have a prom where the ticket price is $140.”

Regardless of financial and organizational issues, there is a sense of intimacy between the seniors and their guests that could never be matched by a combined, upperclassmen prom. Having prom for the seniors and the seniors alone makes it an event that more clearly celebrates the high school experience and the finality and nostalgia associated with graduation.

“I like the idea of all the seniors being together one last time, [with] all [their] closest friends,” Jenny said. “And there are a lot of juniors [who] come to the senior prom, so it’s not totally exclusive, but I like the dinner. I think that if it changed, that’d be fine, but I do like that at Los Altos, prom is something special that you save for the end.”

For now, however, a junior prom is happening, and although it is and will remain unaffiliated with the school or ASB, students are already enthused by the newfound sense of prom-oriented spirit. Invitations have been sent to each student in the junior class and a date — Saturday, May 21 — has been set. Jordan Auerbach, his family and the rest of the prom committee have taken on an admirable responsibility in their planning of the junior prom, but the truth is, there are more sustainable solutions in terms of proms sponsored by the school. But as of today, we are saying: Juniors — enjoy this year’s new prom! It should be awesome.