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After-prom party keeps Islip kids safe

Luisa Gonzalez, 17, poses for a portrait during

Luisa Gonzalez, 17, poses for a portrait during her graduation from Islip High School Friday. (June 22, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

As the Islip High School after-prom party raffle prizes were handed out Friday, senior Luisa Gonzalez barely paid attention.

It turned out she was holding a ticket to ride: her first car.

"I thought, 'Oh, I am not going to win this,' and they called my name and I was in shock," she said. "I was shaking."

There's one small hitch. Gonzalez, 17, doesn't have a driver's license.

"But I will, now that I have a car," she said.

Gonzalez plans to attend Molloy College and study nursing in the fall. Her ride, a 1998 Infiniti I 30 sedan, was the grand prize at the annual bash held in the decorated school cafeteria.

This is the 12th year the school has hosted an after-prom party -- run by parent volunteers and organized by the school's anti-substance abuse task force.

"The idea behind it is to give kids a safe, substance-free environment to continue the prom celebration," said Alison Koch, who chaired the event committee.

Seniors spent prom night Thursday at Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, returning to the school in buses about 11:30 p.m.

The after-party, which stretched into Friday morning, was attended by more than 250 of the 280 graduating seniors, organizers said.

The party and prizes -- including tickets to Adventureland in Farmingdale, gift cards to PC Richards, Dell computers, an autographed Eli Manning poster and other sports memorabilia -- were paid for with donations and a federal grant the task force receives.

No school district money was used, according to Superintendent Susan A. Schnebel.

Joe Catalanotto, 47, owner of the Generation Kia dealership in Medford and a lifetime Islip resident, has donated vehicles to the raffle for years.

"Anything we can do to keep the kids safe, we are more than willing to do," he said.

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