Monday, May 3, 2004

After-prom becomes cool

Parent sponsors find momentum builds

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNION - Ryle High School parents have a message for other schools: Don't give up on after-prom parties.

This year, a record 410 students attended Ryle's bash from midnight to 5 a.m. on April 24. That's about 60 more kids than last year and more than twice the number who had signed up two days before the big night, parent volunteer Lisa Ferguson said.

Conner High School this year canceled its after-prom event - designed to keep students safe and substance-free - because only a handful of young people signed up.

That's typical at Ryle, too, Ferguson said. Even as parents were decorating on the day before the party, students were running up to ask if they could still come, she said.

Sometimes the key is getting a commitment from certain students who draw others. Justin Boh, a senior, decided he would play guitar at after-prom, which helped boost the crowd, Ferguson said.

"Sometimes you just have to do it for several years, big, until the kids finally go, 'Wow,'" Ferguson said.

Ryle's theme this year was Hollywood, and students entered the school on a red carpet with cameras flashing. Throughout the night, their images were projected onto big screens inside. The party also featured casino games, rock-wall climbing, large-screen video games, a Marine obstacle course, a giant slide, carriage rides, a caricature artist and wrestling matches in which students donned inflatable fat suits.

"I thought it was awesome," said Boh.

He had never attended the after-prom before. This year, he decided to go because he had written some songs, and after-prom organizer Karen Chaffins said he could play.

"That was the first incentive, and then the free food and a chance at the prizes. I was like, 'I might as well go,'" Boh said.

He won the biggest prize given away all night: a $1,200 laptop. "Going to college next year, it's going to be great having that with me," he said.


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