High school prom night isn't until spring, but preparation starts early on, not just for the dance but also for the after-prom.
High school parents usually lead the after-prom efforts, intending to provide a fun but safe environment for juniors and seniors.
Granville High School
Amy Tolbert, an English teacher at Granville High School, is in her second year as a member of the committee for planning the after-prom -- an event, she said, is as meaningful as the dance itself.
"Many students think the after-prom is more fun than the actual prom," Tolbert said. "You can hang out with your friends and have fun, whereas at the prom, the pressure is on to be dressed up and more proper. That for kids is often a draw, just to relax and have fun."
More importantly, she said, the after-prom allows students to continue enjoying the evening in a secure environment. Students are signed in upon their arrival, and when they leave, they are signed out and not allowed to return.
"It provides a safe opportunity for kids to get together and have fun after the prom," she said. "That's something many parents want. I think it's something the school needs to offer."
Though Granville students have yet to decide where their April 10 after-prom will be held, the fundraising for the event already is settled. The students began raising money during their freshman year, and by working at the concession stands at sporting events, cleaning up the stadiums after home football games and selling magazines and prom T-shirts, they had saved enough money by their junior year to pay for both prom and the after-prom.
"I'm in my 30s now, and I don't stay up all night, so it's kind of a long weekend for me," Tolbert said. "But it's fun to see the kids have fun and enjoy themselves. That makes it a good experience."
Newark High School
Newark's after-prom committee started its own fundraising event: flamingo flocking.
To raise money for the April 17 after-prom at Park Lanes Bowling Center in Heath, the committee litters lawns with pink flamingos -- up to about 20 per yard. The committee members also offer residents a $15 flamingo-removal service, encouraging a donation to their fundraising project in return. For the $15, residents have the option to choose the next residence for roosting. For another $5, residents could buy "pink flamingo insurance" to ensure that the flamingos don't return.
"For the most part, people think it's funny," said Linda Dayhuff, parent of a Newark senior and member of the after-prom committee. "But we've had a couple families throw them away; we were kind of shook up about that."
Dayhuff, who has served on Newark's after-prom committee for the past two years, said residents aren't required to contribute any money to get rid of the flamingos; they could simply call to have them removed free of charge.
The committee also raffles off Columbus Blue Jackets and Ohio State basketball tickets and asks local businesses for donations.
Dayhuff stressed the importance of after-prom as a safe place for students to have fun.
"It's a big drinking night, and for high school kids, it seems like there have been a lot of accidents," Dayhuff said. "If they go to after-prom, they have a good time and there's less chance of them getting in a car accident."
The money raised over the year is spent not only on the event's location but also for prizes that are raffled off. Prizes last year included a flat-screen TV, portable DVD players, iPods, cameras and speakers for iPods. The biggest prize is saved for last so students are more likely to stay the entire time.
Watkins Memorial High School
Fundraising not only allows for cool prizes but also helps to lower the price of the tickets to the after-prom. According to Shawn Toy, parent of a sophomore at Watkins Memorial High School and member of the after-prom committee, raising money to make the April 23 event affordable for the students is a priority.
"Last year's fundraising made it $20 per student," Toy said. "We try to fundraise enough to get it reduced down to as much as we can."
Selling concessions at high school dances and the powder-puff football game, as well as holding a mulch sale in the spring, could allow Watkins students to enjoy an after-prom at the Easton Town Center's GameWorks. With appetizers served all night, prizes raffled off and a breakfast buffet at the end, students play games throughout the evening.
For Toy, being on the after-prom committee is a commitment to safety. "I love it," she said. "There's eight moms on the committee. We work real hard and we're committed to it. We just want to provide a safe place for students to go to."
Heath High School
Jill McDonald, parent of a junior at Heath High School and member of the school's after-prom committee, agrees that the after-prom is as much about parental peace of mind as it is about students' fun.
"It's a parental event, something the parents do for their students," she said. "We want it to be a safe environment for them."
To make for a night to remember, Heath's after-prom committee holds "lots of fundraisers" -- an adult bus trip to the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind.; selling items like golf umbrellas, blankets and bags decked out with school colors and the bulldog mascot; a gift-card sale; and a 5K Walk/Run event that also raises money for scholarships for graduating seniors.
This year's after-prom will be held May 15 at Heath's Park Lanes Bowling Center, with inflatables, corn hole and card tournaments.
No after-prom for some
Not all Licking County schools hold after-prom events for the students. At Johnstown-Monroe High School, student interest is insufficient to make planning an after-prom worthwhile, according to Anne Beharry, a science and chemistry teacher.
"Every time the kids have tried to do it, it kind of flopped," she said. "There's some student interest, but not enough to get it off the ground and rolling."
Raising enough money for two events is also a major issue.
"We can barely collect enough money to pay for prom a lot of time," Beharry said. "That added expense of an after-prom a lot of times is difficult."
Licking Heights High School is another school without an after-prom. Iva O'Ryan, an English teacher, cited a lack of funds.
"Renting a location for prom is often very expensive, and to keep ticket costs down, we did not want to add an activity that would cost students more," she said.
O'Ryan said Licking Heights officials have done some planning this year in an effort to have an after-prom event next year.
For Newark, a lack of enthusiasm wasn't an issue.
"We talked about it this year with the students, and we said, 'Do you just want to forget about it, or do you want to go ahead and have an after-prom?'" Dayhuff said. "They were very enthusiastic about it. They have a lot of fun."