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Wyandanch teachers reward scholars with free prom ticket

Senior class adviser Kaitlyn Barrett, who teaches 11th-grade

Senior class adviser Kaitlyn Barrett, who teaches 11th-grade history at Wyandanch Memorial High School, poses for a picture with senior Kashawn Charles at the school's prom on May 25, 2017, at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon. Photo Credit: Rachel Weiss

As the school year began at Wyandanch Memorial High School, senior class advisers Kaitlyn Barrett and Danielle Tahir hatched a plan: If students were able to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, they could consider their $85 prom ticket paid.

“We were looking at grades, and we just thought it would be a good motivator to get kids to hit that 3.0, because $85 is a lot of money,” said Barrett, who teaches 11th-grade U.S. history. “So we decided if they could work a little bit harder, we would take care of their prom ticket.”

Barrett and Tahir raised money for this purpose after school, at school sporting events and at homecoming. They sold everything from candy to hot dogs, and ultimately paid for about 40 prom tickets for Thursday’s prom at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon.

According to Barrett, this was the first time Wyandanch has ever done this for their students. Tahir, a 12th-grade history teacher, said that she saw an improvement in her students’ grades.

She also said the teachers noticed a spike in the number of students attending extra-help sessions across all subjects.

At the prom, Barrett arrived early to help set up and greet students as they came in for the cocktail hour. She later danced the night away with the graduating class, snapping plenty of photos along the way.

Among the students was Kashawn Charles, who said he was surprised when he heard about Barrett and Tahir’s plan to pay for prom, considering the cost of a ticket.

“I thought they were crazy,” he said. “But they made it a little hard, saying you had to get a 3.0 from the first quarter [grading period] to third. But I’m an academic student, so I saw it as kind of easy. I did it and my ticket was free.”

Charles said that some of the money he would have spent on a ticket was put toward his prom attire instead. He sported an orchid pink suit jacket with an intricate floral pattern featuring splashes of yellow, and even found a bowtie to match.

“Every class on Long Island should have advisers like this,” Charles said. “...They paid per person for everybody that did well in school, so that shows how great people they are.”

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