For most Port Jefferson students, the traditionally elaborate senior prom at the high school is the last hurrah before heading off to college.
But for Thomas Lennon, it’s the final chapter before joining the Marines.
On Monday night, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School held its senior prom, three days after graduation. The school was transformed into a Disney theme, complete with characters and scenes from “Frozen,” “The Incredibles,” “Monsters Inc.” and more.
As always, parents and volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure the decorations exceeded expectations.
The students entered the prom on the red carpet after exiting all kinds of vehicles -- Maseratis, a Mack Truck, a trolley car.
Lennon, who is set to leave for boot camp on July 10, was joined by his girlfriend and fellow recent graduate Taylor Vitrano.
“I wanted to serve my country,” Lennon said of his decision to enlist, which he did on June 15 of last year. “I felt like college wasn’t for me and I wanted to go out there and do something big.”
Though he will miss spending time with his girlfriend and family, Lennon feels that he is ready to begin this next phase of his life.
“It’s something I’ve been sure about for a long time,” he said, “but it’s going to be tough leaving town. Recently I’ve been getting nervous, but that’s just something that happens.”
Lennon shared that people had generally been supportive of his decision and didn’t try to deter him, though he knows his mother was “proud and upset at the same time” about his leaving.
His girlfriend, who he was friends with but not dating at the time of his decision, was also surprised when he announced his plans.
“It just doesn’t feel real,” Vitrano said.
A classmate of Lennon’s, John McLaughlin, also joined the Marines, and was unable to attend the prom because he had left for boot camp the night before.
But with a few weeks more at home before his departure date, Lennon was grateful that he was able to go.
“I’m happy I get to spend the night with my girlfriend because I don’t have many more nights with her before boot camp,” Lennon said. “Then I’m going to be on and off being home, so I’m really happy that I get to be here.”