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Bishop McGann-Mercy seniors whip up unique prom-posals

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School junior Hope Bahnke and

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School junior Hope Bahnke and senior Leo Ellis enjoy the evening at Giorgio's in Baiting Hollow on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Credit: Tara Conry

This prom-posal may take the cake.

When it came time to ask a date to his senior prom, Leo Ellis whipped up a sweet gift for his friend, Hope Bahnke.

Ellis, a student at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, surprised Bahnke, a junior, in the school's cafeteria in March with a custom cake that he made himself. The six-inch round vanilla cake with chocolate mousse filling was frosted with periwinkle icing and written across it was a simple message: "Prom?"

"I opened the box and it was so pretty and exciting, everyone was yelling," Bahnke, 17, said Wednesday night at the school's senior prom at Giorgio's in Baiting Hollow. (Obviously, she said "yes.")

Ellis added, "I thought it would be a good way to use my talent toward something she would remember."

This wasn't Ellis' first crack at baking. The 17-year-old senior said he started his own business, Leo's Edible Art, when he was only 10 years old.

"I started out with cupcakes at my elementary school fundraisers and then, just worked my way up," he said.

He's had some formal training including classes at The Chocolate Duck in Farmingdale with pastry chefs who have competed on The Food Network, but he's also taught himself some techniques using YouTube videos, he said.

His greatest confectionary creation so far, he said, was a 4-foot cake that he created for a DJ who is also a farmer. The cake was a tractor trailer towing a DJ booth behind it, he said.

But when he heads off to Catholic University in Washington, D.C. this fall, Ellis said he plans to temporarily hang up his apron to study architecture until he's back on Long Island.

"I wanted to do something similar and [architecture] is relatively similar with the cake structure, the design part," he said of his intended major.

Ellis' prom-posal, a popular national trend among high school students, was one of about two dozen executed by McGann-Mercy seniors this year. One of his classmates, Michael Capute, said he spent six months thinking about the perfect way to ask the big question to his prom date.

In March, Capute sent his girlfriend, fellow senior Hannah Steinhauer, on a two-hour surprise scavenger hunt around Southampton Village.

He left clues that led her to seven different locations including the beach, one of her favorite places, and spots where the couple had gone on past dates, including a movie theater and an Italian restaurant.

"I thought I was going out with my friend that day, but when I opened up the car's glove compartment, I found the first note," Steinhauer, 17, said. "It was so crazy and so much fun."

The final clue brought her to a local park, where Capute was standing on a soccer field, holding a bouquet of roses and a soccer ball that read "Prom?" (Steinhauer plays on McGann-Mercy's soccer team.)

While enjoying the prom with Steinhauer Wednesday, Capute said that looking back, he was proud of his prom-posal, calling it one of the best.

He added, "Prom really only happens once in a lifetime, so why not make it special."

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