Stretch limo, stretch prom

The Education Beat

Party: The send-off for seniors at Catonsville High was an all-nighter that lasted 14 hours.

May 22, 2002|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

SOME STATISTICS about last Saturday's senior prom at Catonsville High School:

It was a production in four acts, lasting 14 hours, requiring three modes of transportation, one change of clothing, two crowns for the prom king and queen, two tents, three bands, 430 gowns and tuxedos, and an estimated 100 hours of parents' volunteer work.

My wife and I watched the first act on Tori Wilt's lawn in Old Catonsville. Thirty-seven prom-goers - 18 couples and a single - gathered with camera-toting parents and grandparents for the send-off. Manicured and pedicured, their hair beautifully styled, the girls lined up for pictures. Then the guys lined up in their tuxes. Then the couples posed, boutonnieres and corsages carefully attached.

For the parents, it was a day of pride and a little sadness. Larry Wilt wore a tux for his daughter's send-off, as though escorting her to adulthood.

Did I say girls? No, they were young women dressed in gowns that made them look five years older than their dates. Blue was the color of choice, and no gown was duplicated, thank goodness. My wife described the dresses as "sophisticated." Slinky, I thought.

"Sandra Dee never went to a prom dressed like that," noted one mother.

At 5 p.m., 12 couples piled into a limousine that stretched to Arbutus, and it was off to dinner at the Crab Shanty on Route 40. From there, a limo ride to the National Aquarium for the dance. The kids had the run of the place until the fish had to go to bed. They danced under two tents until midnight, then were whisked home to change clothes for the after-prom party.

Back to Catonsville High, where the crowd, thinned now to about 240, boarded school buses for the short ride to the field house at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. There, they partied until 4:30. They watched movies, they swam, they slurped snowballs, they played Monopoly and volleyball. They napped. There were two bands and a disc jockey.

There was a drawing for prizes: a 1989 Ford, a computer, a digital camera, a television/VCR, a mini-refrigerator. (Note the college theme.)

That's not all. At dawn, the kids boarded the "cheese buses" again for a return to the high school and breakfast - doughnuts, milk and orange juice.

Tori Wilt was in bed by 6:30. This social butterfly had had a date to a Mount St. Joseph High School all-night prom the night before, so she was one tired young lady.

Two days later, she and friend Christen Miller pronounced their senior prom an unqualified success. "It was a long night," Miller said somewhat dreamily, "but it was worth it."

Worth what in terms of money? Wilt and Miller estimated $500 to $800 for each prom-goer, depending on the extras. Those who took the limo spent $92 each. Prom tickets were $60 to $70 a couple. Dinner was $20. The after-prom party cost $16,000, of which the Catonsville High School PTA contributed $9,000. Fund-raisers during their four years together helped the kids throw their last party in style.

During the night they played their class song, "Here's to the Night," by a group I'd never heard of called Eve 6:

Here's to the night we felt alive,

Here's to the tears you knew you'd cry,

Here's to goodbye,

Tomorrow's gonna come too soon.

Towson U. is paying for its president problems

Towson University might be the only institution of higher education in the country with three presidents on its payroll. They are Dan Jones, the acting president who replaced Mark L. Perkins, who replaced Hoke L. Smith. Perkins, forced out of office, is getting two years' salary - some $500,000 - in a settlement, and Smith is on Towson's payroll while he teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park.

There's no need to put WMC name behind us

At Western Maryland College, they're answering the phone, "Western Maryland College, about to be McDaniel College." The new name, which takes effect July 1, was announced recently to mixed reviews. "Those who were opposed to changing the name in the first place are still opposed," a spokesman said yesterday. "A few, though, are coming around ... ."

One problem was solved by naming the Westminster school for William "Billy Mac" McDaniel, salutatorian of the Class of 1880 who devoted his life to Western Maryland. Technically, the school will still bear the initials WMC. The alumnus who told the naming committee that he has the monogram tattooed on his derriere can still wear it with pride and accuracy.

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