Before Upper Moreland High School () seniors could enter their high school for the post prom event, they first had to cross a drawbridge and moat – or at least a clever paper-mache facsimile.
These decorations were a part of the 52nd-annual UMHS post-prom event, which took place in the high school gymnasium, June 1.
“It started out as a gymnasium, and it turned into this wonderful theme,” Terri Soltis said.
This year’s decorations revolved around the Medieval or Renaissance theme, titled “Oh What a Knight!”
Soltis was among several other UMHS parents and school community members this year, who volunteered in the school’s post-prom committee.
These volunteers were split up into groups that were each given a section of the gym to decorate, while maintaining uniformity of the theme. In all, nine walls and corresponding activities were created to transform the gym.
“This year is the first year that we were all uniform, using the same template,” Cheryl Oleykowski said.
Oleykowski, who is this year’s chairperson for the Post-Prom Committee, has been involved with the post prom event for seven years. In previous years, ideas included titles such as “Down the Jersey Shore,” “Carnival,” and last year’s “.”
However, each volunteer group’s section seemed more like individual efforts, as opposed to one over-arching post-prom event, according to Oleykowski.
This year, every section had cardboard turrets and a stone-castle backdrop. As a testemant to the volunteer's effort, each gray boulder was meticulously painted in the same style as every other section’s backdrop.
Oleykowski said that the planning began in October of this school year, and volunteers worked tirelessly when they could and where they could to finish by the June 1 unveiling (the annual theme is kept as a secret from the students).
“It took about a month of weekends,” Lisa Brackin, post-prom committee member, said. “I made the dragon in my kitchen.”
She was pointing to a large, paper-mache, toothy dragon hanging high over a post prom section, called “Dragon Daze.”
Each section had a posted list of Post-Prom Committee volunteers responsible for the section’s construction and artwork, as well as the community business sponsors that made the section possible.
Along with well wishes for the Class of 2012, the “Dragon Daze” section had a little dedication in its poster:
“Thank you! To the dedicated parents, the community, our families, the slightly off balance, the hard working, gluttons for punishment…”
“It’s a labor of love,” Brackin said. “But, you do get to have fun.”
Brackin added that this is a creative outlet for her, and encourages other parents to participate next year.
However, despite being a 52-year tradition, Brackin said she has noticed a decline in volunteers. Oleykowski later added that due to a lack of volunteers this year, her group had to take up the construction of three sections.
Oleykowski said that she encourages parents to look out for post-prom event information at the next UMHS open house or in the school district’s “Virtual Backpack” electronic communication next year.
According to event organizers, the dual purpose of Upper Moreland’s post prom night is to both provide a fun and safe continuation of the students' prom night. Once students entered the high school for the event, they would be “locked in” until the 4 a.m. hour.
Prior to the arrival of the first students, however, the general community was allowed to preview the decorations and activities.
During this preview event, the gym was filled with UMHS student parents, as well as their family, friends and neighbors, all of whom wanted to see this year’s surprise theme.
“It’s a very community-supported event. We’re a small community, so you have to support each other,” Kari Kane, Upper Moreland Primary and Intermediate school HSA president, said.
Kane, whose children have years before they will be thinking of prom night, said that she wanted to take her family to see the hard-work and commitment it took to make the post-prom event possible.
“The larger communities have the numbers,” Kane said. “But, we have the passion of our school.”
The preview event, which took place from 6:30 to approximately 11 p.m., invited visitors to launch rubber chickens from a mechanical chicken catapult, try their hand at foam sword fighting, knock down mini-castles in a “Ye Olde” bowling game or have the opportunity to sit on a kingly throne or two.
“We hope they sit on the throne and pose for pictures,” Jill Costello, post prom committee member, said.
Costello, whose section her fellow group volunteers playfully called “Castle de Costello,” featured an entire king and queen’s court scene. In this section, students were encouraged to dig through the Medieval and Renaissance costumes available for keepsake photo portraits.
“We’re very excited,” Judy Brunner, Upper Moreland Primary School guidance counselor, said. “We’re going to try and stay to watch their faces as they walk in.”
Brunner volunteered with “Castle de Costello’s” over 20-member group. She described being able to volunteer with the group as a happy and bittersweet experience.
“This is my first senior, my oldest,” Brunner said of her daughter Kathryn. “This is an exciting night for all of us.”
Attended the Upper Moreland High School Post Prom event? Share your comments and upload your pictures here!