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Ward Melville High School transforms into 'Neverland' for Peter Pan prom

Ward Melville High School was transformed into Peter

Ward Melville High School was transformed into Peter Pan's "Neverland" for the senior prom on Thursday, June 25, 2015. Credit: Tara Conry

It took more than pixie dust, but Ward Melville High School in East Setauket was transformed into Peter Pan's "Neverland" Thursday night for the Class of 2015's senior prom. 

The roughly 700 prom attendees arrived at the school in an assortment of vehicles, including classic cars, fire trucks and even a few boats. And in keeping with this year's theme, some of the students were escorted by pirates and, in one case, a man dressed as "Tinkerbell," to the front entrance of the school, where a red carpet and bleachers packed with family and friends awaited them.

"The prom entrance is just this big rush," said senior George Zenzerovich. "It's quick but really overwhelming."

Zenzerovich, 18, of Setauket, did a spin as he walked the red carpet. Others came with props and choreographed dance moves, and many couples chose to use their moment in the spotlight to plant a kiss on their date's lips. There was even one student who came in a full head-to-toe Captain Hook costume.

At the end of the red carpet, a large clock reminiscent of London's Big Ben had been constructed at the school's front entrance along with an illuminated sign beckoning the students to "Journey to Neverland."

But the magic was only beginning.

Once inside the school, the lobby had been taken over by buildings resembling a scene from London. The hallway was now the home of Wendy, Michael and John Darling, the characters from the classic children's tale. And with each step the students took they entered a different part of Neverland, from Tiger Lilly's village to Hook's pirate ship.

Zenzerovich said he didn't even recognize his school. 

"I've been going to this school for three years but tonight, I walked through those front doors and I don't know where I am," he said.

The transformation was no easy task though, Ward Melville principal Alan Baum said. 

Planning for this year's prom started as early as September, with students pitching various theme ideas to a committee. Throughout the year, students, faculty, volunteers and a local contractor worked on executing the plan, Baum said. But they couldn't start converting the inside and exterior of the school, and assembling many of the larger sets, until this week.

"It all comes together in the last five days," Baum added.

While hanging out with his classmates in the "pirate ship" section of the prom, Zenzerovich said the evening had already surpassed his expectations, and he had only just arrived.

"I've taken some AP English classes in my time, so I know some pretty big words, but I don't think I can describe this prom," he said. "It's so overwhelming."

But his hopes for the night were pretty simple: "I just want to enjoy one last hurrah with all my friends."

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