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Hauppauge teens trade a hot gym for a cool prom  

Juniors at Hauppauge High School celebrate their junior

Juniors at Hauppauge High School celebrate their junior prom at The Hamlet Golf and Country Club in Commack, two years after volunteering at the school's 2017 prom which was held in the hot school gym. Credit: Brittany Bernstein

Alexandra Frumusa was just trying not to sweat into the chicken Parmesan.

Traditionally, freshmen would volunteer to help serve dinner at Hauppauge High School’s junior prom, and Frumusa was freshman class president. The event was held annually in the school gym, which was not air-conditioned.

On a sweltering  night in April 2017, Frumusa was tasked with handing out helpings of food over hot Sternos.

The heat was so unbearable that many students left the gym to hang out in the hallway, trying to cool down. Their memories include a teacher sticking his face over the ice cream freezer, hoping for a bit of relief.

Afterward, Frumusa and her classmates knew that the makeup-melting, hair-wilting gym wasn’t what they wanted for their junior prom. Haylee Lanfranco also volunteered that year and saw an ominous prom future.

“Oh, that’s going to be us in this warm, warm gym,” she said.

But they lucked out. Caroline Fortmeyer, who served as treasurer her freshman year and is now the junior class president, said that last year’s juniors worked to move the 2018 prom. For the first time, it was held at The Hamlet Golf and Country Club in Commack, and a  precedent was set.

“So I think they kind of, not did it for us, but set up the foundation for us,” Fortmeyer said.

This year’s junior class followed last year’s formula to fundraise for the prom, holding pizza sales after school and selling T-shirts during Spirit Week. Fortmeyer and her classmates worked with their class advisers, Felicia Cono and Ellen Robbins to keep ticket prices down to $70. That’s only $5 more than ticket prices were the last year the junior prom was held in the gym.

Aside from the fundraising, holding the prom outside the school involved “a lot less planning,” Cono said. When the prom was held in the gym, there would be a theme and the students would spend months putting together decorations. One week before the prom, the gym was closed and physical education classes were moved so the gym could be decorated. With the prom being held at the Hamlet, the venue took care of everything aside from the centerpieces, DJ and photographer, Cono said.

“For however long Hauppauge has been having [junior] prom it was always in the gym … so I didn’t picture it anywhere else,” Frumusa said.

For this year's prom -- also held at the Hamlet on May 4 -- carefully primped students posed in a photo booth and sipped Shirley Temples a world away from the school gym in a cool ballroom — both in temperature and style.

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