William Byrd High School held its prom on April 8 at the Hotel Roanoke. Immediately following the prom, beginning at midnight, the PTSA sponsored its annual After Prom event at the high school.
Each year the parents and volunteers create an extravaganza for students. This year’s theme was #GlowYourOwnWay with black lights and glow-in-the-dark decorations throughout the front lobby, hallways, cafeteria, and gyms. After Prom 2017 hosted 396 students with 81 percent staying for the entire event.
Juniors and seniors were invited and allowed to bring one guest, but a date was not necessary; they could attend After Prom even if they didn’t attend the prom itself. Dress was casual. There was no charge to attend; the food is always free; and there were lots of prizes for those who could stick it out until 3:30 a.m.
While some schools charge a fee for their After Prom events, the PTSA at Byrd committed years ago to hold the event with no charge for admission to provide a safe place for students, free of drugs and alcohol and off the streets once the prom ends.
Students entered through the original front lobby of the building where art teachers Allyson Goin and Denise Sartell had created a huge boom box lit by flashing lights. Volunteer Garrett Kornegay built a giant lava lamp from a large wire spool, two sheets of Lexan, LED lights, 30 gallons of water, and glitter— also on display in the lobby. Teacher Alicia Spangler was in charge of the Senior Walkway, which featured the senior photographs from the Class of 2017.
There were giant inflatables and the popular mechanical bull ride in the regular gym and laser tag in the darkened auxiliary gym. There were hundreds of balloons and 1,500 paper chains strung in the hallways.
McDonald’s of Vinton and the Bonsack Chick-fil-A donated food. Vito’s set up in the parking lot and volunteers were kept busy throughout the night carrying in pizzas and carrying out empty boxes. There was also a dessert buffet with cupcakes, marshmallow and pretzel sticks, and a Sno-Cone machine.
The only room with regular lighting was the senior section of the cafeteria set up with board games, a photo booth with crazy hats, a green screen for photos as well, and artist Kyle Edgell drawing free student caricatures.
Students could make a glow in the dark picture frame in a craft area. Teachers were invited to create glow in the dark graffiti tags for display. Students voted for their favorite with the winning teacher receiving a $100 Kroger gift card.
The committee used social media connections this year with Facebook Live and the purchase of four SnapChat domains from midnight until 4 a.m.
One incentive to stay all night each year is the periodic drawings for gift cards throughout the early morning hours. Parents and the community donate the gift cards for various businesses and services— this year the After Prom Committee received 100 cards to give away. There were also drawings for bigger prizes like a Go-Pro Camera or wireless headphones purchased in a “great deal” from Best Buy, which gives those same deals to all local high school After Prom groups.
Students were checked in and out electronically by computer. They had to arrive by 1 a.m. and could not re-enter if they left. They had to come empty handed. Security was provided inside and outside the building.
If they managed to stay all night, that made them eligible for the RAYSAC After Prom Car Giveaway sponsored by First Team Auto. Four senior and four junior names were drawn at random to enter the car giveaway held in June after all local schools have held their proms. Staying all night also earned each one the coveted After Prom T-shirt.
Five PTSA members make up the After Prom Committee, headed up for the sixth year by Lisa Kornegay, with Kelly Olsen, Alicia James, Andrea Boland, and Karen Handley. They get started on planning the event in August, with a theme to choose, donations to solicit and sponsors to recruit from the community. The annual budget is $10,000— which comes from individual and corporate donations, including the Town of Vinton.
The committee is joined by about 30 volunteers who create the decorations, put them up, and take them down on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Kornegay says the volunteers have been the “most amazing and dedicated group of volunteers anywhere” when other schools sometimes struggle to round up more than a handful.
Kornegay, Olsen, James, and Boland have been working together on PTAs and PTSAs since their children were kindergarten students together at Herman L. Horn Elementary. Their sons are all graduating this year, so their commitment is fulfilled.
Their themes from recent years included the Candy Land game, the “Where the Wild Things Are” children’s story, and Dr. Seuss. Local high schools recycle the After Prom decorations from one school to the other. Lord Botetourt has asked to use the #GlowYourOwnWay decorations next year.
Primary sponsors this year (which gets you a spot on the back of the official T-shirts) included Carilion Hospital, Best Western Plus Inn at Valley View, Allstate, and Affordable Portables. Two of the organizations donated $1,000 with the others donating $500.
The masses of balloons came from Trenda Breeding, black lights from Master Taylor Entertainment. T-shirts were produced by Chalaine’s of Vinton.
This year the community was invited to view the decorations before the students arrived– from 10 to 10:30. Those who stopped by expressed their amazement at the decorations and activities and their gratitude for the huge effort put forth by the volunteers to give students a Prom Night to remember.
See The Vinton Messenger Facebook page for photos of more After Prom decorations.