On the heels of having its annual Courtwarming festivities this past Friday night, St. Clair High School students now could feel like they are teenagers without a formal place to dance this spring after two businesses have canceled prom reservations in recent weeks.
Principal Kevin Hillman informed R-XIII School District board of education members earlier this month that he and other high school staff are searching for a place to conduct the annual event.
“I assure you, we will have a prom,” Hillman said. “We just don’t know where it will be yet.”
The saga started late last year when the Gala Events Center in Union closed its doors. St. Clair has had its annual prom there for several years and had made reservations to do so again in 2013.
“The Gala Events Center had been scheduled just like last year, but the center has closed and canceled all events,” Hillman said. “Efforts to contact the owners for trying to work something out have been futile.”
When that location no longer was available, reservations were made at a venue in Bourbon.
“We were able to land a spot in Bourbon as a replacement,” the SCHS principal said on Feb. 14. “But we found out two weeks ago that Bourbon had double-booked and will not be able to house us.”
That means for the time being, the prom has a scheduled date of Saturday, May 4, but no facility in which to have it.
“Our junior sponsors are working on other options right now,” Hillman said. “Our prom will be wonderful. We just have to work on where it will be wonderful.”
Hillman said he is being cautious about housing the event in a bar, hotel or other similar location. He also has concerns about finding a venue that is large enough to house the 450 to 500 students who will attend.
“We are working very hard to find a place,” the SCHS principal told The Missourian last week. “We’re working with a tight calendar and have several other factors to consider.”
Proms almost always are scheduled in the spring toward the end of the academic year, and venues get filled quickly by schools months in advance. With only a handful of possible dates and even fewer nearby venues is adding to the difficulties.
“We pick a date (for prom) that affects the fewest number of students,” Hillman said in referring to other academic and athletic events that take place during the spring. “And the date is set well ahead of time so people can plan. That makes finding a place now even more difficult.”
The principal said changing the date is “Plan C” and would happen only if no other options remain available.
“We really don’t want to change the date,” he said.
Hillman said the ideal situation would be to find a location within about 45 miles of St. Clair, but if necessary, outlets further away may have to be considered.
“We have kids go all over the place that night to eat before the event,” Hillman said. “Our first choice would be to stay in the proximity. But, we may have to consider other options.”
When asked is decorating the SCHS gymnasium was a possibility, Hillman said it was, but that doing so would be “Plan D.”
“We have given thought to having it in the gym,” he said. “We have a marvelous gym, but because of that, it is used by a lot of groups and classes. So shutting it down early to decorate it would affect a lot of people. Plus, there would be the expense and time of pulling that all together.”
No matter what ends up happening, Hillman assured students and community members they need not worry.
“We will have a wonderful prom,” he said. “And it will be safe and fun. We’re just still working on it.”
Prom is the third of three “formal” events SCHS has. Homecoming takes place in the fall while Courtwarming is a winter event.