Going Back in Time at 'Throwback Thursday' Post-Prom

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“Throwback Thursday” was the theme for Islip High School’s 2015 post-prom, an imaginative and ambitious event that helped make the attending seniors’ last night at the school a memorable one.

“Thanks to the wonderful work of many volunteers and generous donations from the community, this year’s post-prom was a great success that will be cherished by all who attended,” said organizer Ken Phalen.

Upon arrival, the students were greeted by a “time tunnel” and walked past a clock that spun time backwards, taking them back to 1997, the year they were born. As they entered the school, members of the sponsoring Islip Elks Club and parent volunteers welcomed the students, guiding them along a giant game of Life in the lobby that led to the cafeteria. They passed a life-sized game of Operation, giant Legos and crayons, and huge alphabet blocks spelling out “Class of 2015” – all serving as fun reminders of things that happened before senior year – as well as henna tattoo, candy bar and ice cream stations; a photo booth complete with props; and huge screens where students could play “Super Smash Bros.” and “Mario Kart.” Images of pop culture and historic events that defined their youth were visible everywhere, and magazine covers, movie posters and information about the changes caused by social media were spread around the auditorium lobby.

Serving as the main stage of the post-prom, the school cafeteria had been utterly transformed, with long black curtains on the decorated walls and tables laden with floral centerpieces and large Mylar balloons donated by sponsors Chazz Florist of Islip. Bringing back many fond memories for the students, nostalgic scenes around the cafeteria included a movie area complete with a “Harry Potter” exhibit, the doors from “Monsters Inc.,” the balloon-covered house from “ Up” and a toy box filled with “Toy Story” characters; an area filled with TV favorites, including an entire setting from “SpongeBob Square Pants”; and a gaming area featuring giant Nintendo Game Boys and larger-than-life video game boxes hung from the ceiling.

At the center of the cafeteria was a dance floor with special lighting, a DJ and a game show where students could compete for prizes. Throughout the night, raffle giveaways were handed out to attending seniors, including gift cards, flat screen televisions, a laptop computer and the grand prize, a Kia Rio car, which was won by Melanie Mayer. Meanwhile, the students were treated to a delicious breakfast that included custom-made omelets, egg sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, drinks and desserts.

“It was awesome,” said Ethan Fields, the valedictorian of the class. “I had heard about post-prom for years, but I had to go to see how great it actually was.”

Julia Harkin, a guest from another district, expressed her amazement at the event. “We didn’t have anything like a post-prom at my school’s prom, so we ended up just staying at the venue for a long time,” said Harkin, “I would have loved to have had a post-prom at my school – this was so much fun!”

One of the parent volunteers, April McDonald, an alumna from the Class of 1990, said, “Prom was nothing like this when I went to high school here. We didn’t have anywhere to go.”

For the past 15 years, the post-prom event has been a group effort between the Islip Drug Education Awareness – Compass IDEA Task Force Coalition, the district and community organizations. It is run completely by volunteers and funded wholly via donations. According to Phalen, the effort of an entire community is necessary to ensure the best experience for Islip seniors.

“We need parents and families to share the enthusiasm of this event with their children, and encourage all seniors to attend in future years,” he said. “Please consider joining our efforts next year to continue the growing success of this event. You don’t have to have a senior student to be involved. Without the volunteers that make this happen, we cannot continue.”

Planning for next year’s post-prom will begin in the fall. To remain updated, follow the Islip High School Post Prom page on Facebook.