For many, it’s a more exciting option than an evening dancing in Tracy’s Portuguese Hall, according to Alayna Carter, Tracy High School activities director.
“The kids just aren’t showing up any more,” she said Monday, April 15. “They … take the party bus to San Francisco, walk around, eat wherever and drive back to someone’s house. They weren’t going to the dance, because they figured it’s just in Tracy, when they can go and do stuff out of town.
Carter, a physical education teacher, said that has forced local high schools to add flair to make prom more attractive.
In the case of Kimball and West high schools, administrators are fighting party buses with party buses of their own.
Instead of pulling up to Portuguese Hall in limousines and cars, as in 2012, students attending the West High prom on Saturday, April 13, were whisked to and from a dinner and dance at Canyon View in San Ramon in school buses.
Shauna Liel, West High’s activities director, said it was the first time West had an “all-inclusive” prom that included transportation, dinner, dancing and photos.
“I wanted to do something new and exciting to get more kids involved,” said the English teacher and first-year activities director. “And I really like the whole idea of taking it out of town and doing something a little more classy.”
Liel got the idea from visiting the 2012 prom thrown by Kimball High School, which has bused students between the school and the prom venue since 2011.
James Tiffany is a U.S. history teacher at Kimball who advises the junior class officers responsible for setting up the prom.
Tiffany said busing gives chaperones and administrators more control of the event and heads off potential problems with underage drinking and driving.
“The parents appreciate it, the students get to have it at a very nice venue — it works out,” he said. “If I was a parent, this is how I’d want it done.”
Liel said the added control helped make the West prom “amazing.”
“Not one single (discipline) issue at all,” she said. “And that has never happened before.”
Jessie Guiso, the junior class vice president at West, said students who went to the Bay Area for dinner would arrive at the dance late or skip the high school tradition altogether. The 16-year-old described it as “kind of a mess.”
“There were so many students that I haven’t seen before (at a school dance), and they were so excited to get out of Tracy,” she said on Monday. “You might as well do it, because you only get to do it once.”
Liel said the setup also keeps down costs for students.
Individual tickets to the West prom were $110 each, a price she said was significantly lower than the estimated cost of students paying for a separate dinner, photos, transportation and a dance ticket.
Kimball, which has its prom Saturday, April 20, will use school district buses to transport students to Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay for $130 a ticket.
Tracy High’s April 27 prom is at Sunol Country Club outside Pleasanton, where Carter, a Tracy High alumna, had her senior prom in 1993.
She said the school chose the venue over the Portuguese Hall in Tracy because of waning student interest, but buses won’t be part of the Tracy High prom.
“We don’t do the transportation there and back, because it hasn’t been a tradition of ours,” Carter said. “Changing things from what we’ve done for so many years would be a difficult task. We don’t think our kids would sign up for it.”
Student safety is still a top concern, Carter said.
She said the school’s administrators, in addition to 10 parent chaperones and full security, will be at the country club. Tickets cost $80 a couple or $55 for singles.
But at West, Liel said the change to an all-inclusive evening will probably become tradition. Students’ experience this year was so positive that plans are being laid for another bus prom in 2014.
“We had a great time. It was awesome,” she said. “We wouldn’t have done it any other way.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.