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Northport High alumnus refurbishes Jaguar to woo prom date

Eric Johnson, 18, of Northport High School's Class

Eric Johnson, 18, of Northport High School's Class of 2013, escorts girlfriend Veronika Potylitsina, 18, to the prom in style in his father's 1959 Jaguar Mach 1 on June 26, 2014. Credit: Jennifer A. Uihlein

When Eric Johnson was a senior at Northport High School in 2013, he asked his girlfriend Veronika Potylitsina, a junior, to the prom. But her parents said no, wanting to preserve the customary rite of passage for her senior year.

Turns out it was worth the wait. Johnson, 18, a student at Alfred State University, returned home from college mid-May and began his prom preparation.

Potylistina, 18, knew that dating the self-proclaimed eclectic Johnson would be different, and she wasn’t disappointed. For the past month, Johnson worked on his father’s 1959 Jaguar Mark 1, 3.4-litre engine car, making it a safe and reliable prom-worthy vehicle.

“I’ve always liked different things, including cars,” Johnson explained, so it was no surprise when he suggested driving his girlfriend to the prom in the vintage car -- nor was she shocked when he arrived sporting black patent-leather platform shoes, decked with a mini aquarium scene and fake fish floating in the heels.

The couple, along with several hundred other prom-goers, attended Northport High School's pre-prom festivities at Northport Village Park on Thursday. The event, which included a red-carpet arrival, was an opportunity for the students and community to come together at the picturesque waterside park.

The pre-prom event has been a tradition for more than 15 years, according to Pat Gardiner of the Northport High School Parent Teacher Student Association.

“It gives the community an opportunity to see everyone all dressed up, and it’s a great way for the town to use its beauty,” explained Gordon Weigers, 19, a Northport High School Class of 2013 alummus and current student at Northeastern University. Like Johnson, the prom was a homecoming of sorts for Weigers.

And the reunions continued, especially for Ryan Bonomi, 18, a St. Anthony’s High School student who was invited to the Northport High School prom by his date, Callis Spiros, 18. Bonomi grew up in the Northport school system, but transferred to St. Anthony’s in his junior year. “I’m so excited,” Bonomi said. “There are lots of people I haven’t seen in a long time.”

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