Two years ago, Emma Koster started planning her senior prom . . . as a sophomore.
“We’re a pretty planning-oriented class, if that makes sense,” Koster said with a laugh during Elwood-John H. Glenn High School's prom, held Thursday night at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale. “We like to get ahead of things; we like to make things as big and as great as they can be for the entire class.”
Koster felt strongly about planning the perfect prom for her peers. She and four fellow class officers toured Bourne Mansion at the end of their sophomore year to see if it'd be a good fit. Koster said they loved the venue so much, the class put down a deposit two years in advance.
Koster added, “And then the next two years have just been kind of. . .”
“Fundraising, fundraising, fundraising!” interjected class treasurer Kate Zenobio.
Koster said the class took a vote and decided that instead of having a junior prom or special event for the class — like group laser tag — the students wanted to save the money for senior prom.
“Every fundraising opportunity we’ve had has been for this, basically,” Koster said. “We just had ‘Mr. Glenn,’ which is our male beauty pageant. It’s kind of a joke; it’s really fun. We did that in January with our senior boys and all the money goes to this. So we’ve been really preparing for this quite a lot. And we thought of our theme probably our junior year.”
The theme of the prom was “Through the Years.” The class officers collected childhood photos from the students to create centerpieces for the tables. Each centerpiece represented a different grade level (pre-K through 12th grade) with corresponding photos. There were also a handful of tables with centerpieces devoted to class activities, such as homecoming and "Mr. Glenn."
The photos were attached to small trees, surrounded by silver jewels dangling from branches. Koster said they received hundreds of photos from the senior class, and ended up picking many group shots and cross-referencing the photos with a list of the students, to make sure everybody was included.
“It’s low-key but I think it’s really nice, and I’m hoping people will enjoy it when they walk in there and see a picture of themselves in first grade,” Koster said.
Class adviser Carolyn Pollina said Koster, Zenobio and the rest of the student government worked diligently to pull everything off.
The theme "is so them,” she said. “They’re such old souls and so nostalgic.”
Pulling up to the mansion, it started to sink in for Koster: years of planning have ultimately led to this grand finale.
“Driving in I was like, 'Oh my god!' ” she said. “My heart was beating so fast. I was like, ‘We’re here!’ ”
Koster and Zenobio agreed that the feeling was surreal. Prom also marked the eve of graduation, where the students would be saying their last goodbyes.
In the fall, Koster will head to University of Notre Dame in Indiana to study psychology, and Zenobio will attend Providence College in Rhode Island in hopes of becoming a math teacher.
“It’s a quick turnaround for us,” Zenobio said. “I just want time to slow down.”