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Hampton Bays seniors raise $14,000 for prom, senior activities

Hampton Bays High School students Jean Louise Catena,

Hampton Bays High School students Jean Louise Catena, left, Rebecca Harris, Alexandra Maitland-Ward, Nikki Nolan and Meghan Harris attend their senior prom at Lombardi's on the Sound in Port Jefferson on Thursday, June 25, 2015. As members of the school's student council, they played a large role in fundraising for the prom throughout the year. Credit: Amy Onorato

When it comes to putting together a perfect prom, planning can get pricey.

Booking a venue for one night alone can cost up to $70 dollars a plate or more -- and that's before finding entertainment, decorations and arranging for transportation.

How did Hampton Bays High School seniors help keep down the cost? By raising around $14,000 with an innovative fundraising initiative that gave the students much more than just one fantastic night at the end of their school year.

"We wanted our prom to be really amazing," Nikki Nolan, president of the school's senior council, said during prom Thursday night at Lombardi's on the Sound in Port Jefferson. "So after planning junior prom, we knew we would have to do even more to make it happen."

Nolan, along with fellow senior council members and longtime friends Jean Louise Catena, Rebecca Harris, Alexandra Maitland-Ward and Meghan Harris, started working on fundraising before senior year even started, hitting the Internet and magazines for ideas on new events they could bring to the school. Working with senior class advisers Joseph Burger and Michelle Edwards, their first major event -- the "Haunted Hallway" -- was born.

"For Halloween, we decorated one hallway of the school to look like a haunted house," Nolan said. "We had seniors dress up in costume and jump out of lockers and classrooms to scare people, and we had indoor trick-or-treating and games for elementary school kids. It was a safe way for the younger kids to go trick-or-treating, and they had a really good time."

Other events put together by the team included pancake breakfasts for Christmas and Easter, which raised more than $2,400 for the senior class, as well as manning the concession stands during football games. In November, the seniors also worked out a partnership with the Parent-Student Teacher Association and Quogue-based car dealership Otis Ford, raising money by offering test drives for students in their vehicles.

"The car event originally started as a PTSA event, but we asked them if we could join in, and they were happy to split the donations with us," Nolan said.

According to Burger, the Class of 2015 raised over $25,000 over the last three years to help defer costs for school events -- an unprecedented amount compared with recent classes.

"When I started working with them, I knew they were a great group of kids," Burger said. "They always bring out their best effort."

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