Prom for seniors, juniors, invited underclassmen returns Saturday, April 9, at Fullerton Airport after 3-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic

The+Associated+Student+Body+%5BASB%5D+hosted+prom+at+Hanger+21+South+in+Fullerton+on+April+9.+It+filled+the+site+with+carnival+games+and+carnival+food+for+juniors%2C+seniors+and+invited+underclassmen.+

David Fenstermaker

The Associated Student Body [ASB] hosted prom at Hanger 21 South in Fullerton on April 9. It filled the site with carnival games and carnival food for juniors, seniors and invited underclassmen.

Kate Yang

Because of the waning COVID-19 pandemic, upperclassmen and invited underclassmen will for the first time in three years be able to attend a spring tradition to end the school year – the prom.

But instead of the traditional hotel or amusement-themed venue, the Saturday, April 9, event will be held at Hangar 21 South in the Fullerton Municipal Airport from 7-11 p.m.

“We are seeing things like homecoming and basketball games get big crowds and generate lots of interest because people want that normalcy and return to familiar things,” ASB co-adviser David Fenstermaker said. “We hope that [prom] is another example of that and that people embrace a return to this great end-of-the-year tradition.”

We hope that [prom] is another example of that and that people embrace a return to this great end-of-the-year tradition.”

— ASB co-adviser David Fenstermaker

Using the jumbotron, the Associated Student Body revealed the prom’s theme based on the   2016 musical, “La La Land,” Wednesday, March 16, during break. The ASB later uploaded the recording to its Instagram platform the same day.

“We did a Google Form within the ASB for anyone who had prom [theme] ideas, and ‘La La Land’ and The Great Gatsby [novel] were two of the ones that stuck out,” said junior Jacqueline Woo, who was part of the three-member prom organizing committee. “The prom committee just thought [‘La La Land’] was classy and simple for the first prom in so long and nothing too cringy or extravagant.”

The ASB held the 2018-2019 prom April 6 at the Long Beach Aquarium; however, this year, the committee moved the event’s setting to Hangar 21 in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety regulations.  

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the ASB’s junior prom commissioners would have already secured a prom location the summer before the start of the next school year. But because of the uncertainty this school year with COVID-19 and its Delta and Omicron variants, the ASB didn’t finalize a site until the beginning of 2022, which made booking a hotel or past venue like the Long Beach Aquarium difficult, Fenstermaker said.

“We are hosting it in Fullerton because it gives us the best chance to have the largest crowd,” Fenstermaker said. “We have to make decisions like this early in the year, and some areas in Southern California still have heavy restrictions regarding the coronavirus, [so] this place gave us the best chance to have a close to normal prom.”

Hanger 21 South accommodates 1200 students, and the ASB referenced school dances from other high schools, like Valencia High School, to find a local location for the event. 

Woo said she struggled with complaints from the student body regarding the prom’s theme and location, but she advised her fellow commissioners – juniors Nicholas Kim and Lindsey Kang – to focus on preparing for the event. 

“We just ignored [the complaints] because no matter what we do, we’re always going to have students complaining, and we just have to deal with it,” she said. “And with the theme leaking, I just tried to stress it as much as I could to everyone not to say anything.” 

Prom goers will be able to engage in various activities including a carousel, fun house, carnival food tasting, photo booth and station and carnival rides; however, such activities will not be tailored to the La La Land theme, Woo said.

Tickets went on sale March 17 on the SH webstore, and students will have until April 8. As of March 31, tickets cost $100 for those with a gold card and $110 for those without. Prices will rise to $105 with the gold card and $115 without from April 3-6 and rise to $110 with the gold card and $120 without from April 7-8. Unlike the 2021 homecoming dance, guest passes will be available for students not enrolled at Sunny Hills with the lifted mask mandate and reduced COVID-19 restrictions, Woo said.  

Students bringing guests need to fill out permission slips available in Room 6 for both themselves and their guests and need to turn them in before the event, Woo said. 

Senior Riya Bhakta, who already purchased her prom tickets, looks forward to spending the evening alongside her friends, though the venue may not have been what she envisioned for her senior year prom.

“I expected the venue to be more, not to be mean to ASB because I know they do a lot of hard work on planning these events, but I feel like maybe a hotel in Hollywood or something,” Bhakta said. “The venue will not impact my experience though because I will have a great time enjoying my friends’ company at our last school dance.”

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled fellow senior Zachary Gomez’s junior prom, so he expresses excitement and gratitude for the April 9 event.

“I was bummed for it back then but was understanding of what was going on at the time,” Gomez said. “Now, I’m just glad that we’re able to do this and have a good time.”

The prom’s three-year hiatus left Gomez unsure of what events and activities to expect, even though he attended past homecoming dances. 

“I honestly have no clue what to expect,” he said. “I don’t watch many ‘pop culture’ shows or movies about high school life, so all I know is limited to either the ultimate high school multidate night or the ultimate hangout for friends. I will probably just spend the night laughing and dancing like no one’s watching.”

As prom is only a week or so away, Fenstermaker encourages all juniors and seniors to take advantage of the entertaining event. 

“I would say that when you get older, you don’t usually remember teachers’ names or class periods or mathematical formulas from high school, but you do remember experiences that you had with people you were closest to,” he said