A Night Out of This World

Student Council Decides on Celestial Themed Prom


Photo Courtesy of Tristan Hernandez

Last year’s seniors take a selfie in the cafeteria at Prom-ish last year. Due to COVID-19, prom was hosted in the courtyard and cafeteria, but the STUCO committee hoped to change that with this year’s plans. “I am really excited for this year’s prom because we are doing it at a different venue than normal, and hope that the things we have planned will make it a night you will never forget,” Student Council co-head Ariana Balakrishnan said.

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

Going to a friend’s house, dressing up, dancing, eating food and taking pictures. A typical high school prom. For the past two years, students have not had actual prom, so, as co-heads of the events committee, juniors Ariana Balakrishnan and Ainsley Harlan worked with the events committee on this year’s prom theme: Celestial. 

“We have always loved planning things and being able to give everyone else that opportunity,” Harlan said. “Seniors got cheated out of their junior prom, so I would love to give them that opportunity to have a really nice senior prom.” 

Balakrishnan and Harlan picked the theme for prom in September. Harlan said she found inspiration from the 2018 Met Gala theme of “The Heavenly Bodies,” which led to her idea of having a Celestial-themed prom.

“We have known that we wanted to plan it, and it’s very easy for prom to not look as classy, and we wanted something that would not look tacky, and I feel like that is something easy to do,” Harlan said. 

Prom will be held on April 9 from 8 p.m. to midnight. Prom tickets will be $60 and sales will begin on March 23. Right now, the committee is deciding between digital tickets or printed tickets.

“We gave a really good deal on the area we are going to have, and it’s a really beautiful venue,” Garcia said. “It has beautiful Texas granite and giant pillars and a really cool venue that I think the students are going to like.”

According to Balakrishnan, prom feels like a much bigger event to plan than homecoming or the fall ball. She has already visited the venue and met with Tereasa Back, Anthony Garcia and Adam Babich during school time.

“We have to talk to vendors, see what’s under school guidelines, see what’s not, communicate all of that to our fellow class members, hear all their feedback and report that back to the teachers, so it’s definitely a lot,” Balakrishnan said. 

Finding supplies was a difficult task, according to Harlan, as they had a vision of what they wanted it to look like, so they needed to find materials that met their expectations and followed school guidelines.

“The school puts such odd guidelines, so we figured out what we are and aren’t allowed to do in the district but I think it’s coming together nicely,” Harlan said.

There has not been a “real” prom since 2019, so Balakrishnan said she hoped this is something that everyone is super excited for. 

“In a sense, prom is kind of like feeling like an adult,” Balakrishnan said. “Getting to go on that night out and have that party bus and get to like get all dressed up in a fancy gown. It is something that is super iconic in high school culture, and I am really happy that we get to bring that to our  juniors and seniors this year.”

Last year, the school hosted “Prom-ish” because of COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. It was held in the courtyard. This year, the committee hopes real prom will be worth it. 

“It’s a night to dance your cares away,” Harlan said. “I think prom is a fun night where everyone dresses up, and especially since COVID-19 everyone wants a reason to dress up. You get to dress up, have fun with your friends, and dance around. I think it’s just a good time to kind of let loose.”

A unique addition to prom this year is the different prom titles. One of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) officers, Kyra Plas, saw a news article about a school changing their prom titles to prom royalty, which gave her the idea for Cedar Park to do something similar.

“With just the options of King and Queen, it left a gap with lots of questions of ‘how would a gay couple run?” Plas said. “What if someone with they/them pronouns wins? What if somebody transgender wins, will they be misgendered? So I brought it up to the other GSA officers at an officer meeting and they all loved the idea of changing our titles from prom king and queen to prom royalty.”

Plas proposed the idea to principal John Sloan detailing the idea along with examples of schools and colleges who have done the same, including the positive outcomes. Officers met with staff at a meeting, where the group discussed logistics and how it should work since administration had already been discussing it before GSA’s proposal. 

“We came to the decision that candidates for Prom Court will have the option of the following titles, Prom King, Prom Queen, and Prom Royalty,” Plas said. “So if a student would still like the traditional title of prom king/queen, then they still had the option. However, if someone wanted to have the gender-neutral title, then they would now have that option. It also opened up the possibility of gay couples running together as there could now be two kings, queens, or royalties.”

Biology teacher and Student Council advisor Adam Babich chose this year’s venue, the Bob Bullock Museum. In the past, prom has been hosted at hotels or the UT alumni center.

“We used to do it at UT, and then when I called them to see if we were going to be able to do it, they said sure we have a date,” Babich said. “We put the date down, and then afterward I realized it was Easter, so I called back but that was the only date. We were forced to look for other venues, and I heard that other schools had used Bob Bullock before, so when we went in there, it was just beautiful and we were like, ‘it’s perfect, sign us up.’”

Babich has been planning prom for the past eight years. As the STUCO advisor, Babich oversees the students planning the prom, and this year there is a mix of both seniors and juniors assisting with prom. 

“Times have changed and we don’t really [have prom as class focused],” Babich said. “I would definitely say that this is the first year we have had a lot more student involvement in prom planning, which I think is because with COVID-19 with the last few years, we haven’t done anything, so everybody is excited to help. In the past, the prom was designed and put together by Coach Nadira King. She came up with the ideas and designs, I simply helped with the finances (filling out contracts and whatnot). This year is a transition year to our new Dance advisor, Mr. Anthony Garcia.”

This is the Broadcast advisor and prom co-sponsor Anthony Garcia’s first year co-sponsoring prom. He took over for King who did it for several years, but handed it over to Garica this year and has been coaching him as he works with Babich to plan this year’s prom. 

“My biggest role was trying to find the venue,” Garcia said. “That’s probably one of the hardest things because you are trying to find something that is a good time of year, a good place, is nice and also doesn’t conflict with a lot of other things going on.”

Planning prom so far has not felt like a chore, according to Balakrishnan. She said it is fun, as her and Harlan are natural planners at heart. She said she feels like it is an activity to them and an opportunity to put something on for their fellow classmates.

“It’s like a reward,” Harlan said. “We have worked really hard and planned the not so graceful things over the year, and this is something that we can work towards. This is like the big finale and it’s something that we want to put work into.”

Being the main correspondents of the event, Balakrishnan and Harlan said they feel like it’s been an experience that they wouldn’t trade for the world. 

“We are both in a sense and I say take it with a grain of salt, control freaks,” Balakrishnan said. “We have a decent amount of control of this, and we are able to pick and choose where we get vendors, and I feel like there are a lot of life skills that the both of us are gaining out of this. Like being able to talk to these vendors, being able to go downtown and meet with the tour guides on our own.”

Garcia said he thinks that for some students, prom can be polarizing. However, he said he hopes to include everyone this year.

“I really think no matter if you just want to go dance or you just want to dress up, or you want to go downtown, there’s gonna be something at prom for you,” Garcia said. “We have casino nights that come and set up card games and different casino games out there that Mr.Cieri is out there dealing Black Jack, so it’s not just you are going to show up and you are going to stand there awkwardly while people dance.”

Garcia emphasized that prom is an event that everyone should attend and it’s one of the unique things about high school experiences. A typical high school prom experience consists of dressing up, going to dinner, taking pictures with friends and making memories. 

“For students planning prom, I think it’s just a good opportunity for them to learn how to manage a lot of moving parts,” Garica said. “They have to work within a budget. They’ve got to be able to find some vendors that will be approved by the district, so it’s just a really good experience in event planning and management. It’s a real event that they are planning. It’s not just a project or some kind of pretend thing. It’s a legitimate thing that they see come to fruition, and that night they hopefully come out and get to see the fruit of their work.” 

Balakrishnan said that a lot of planning has gone into this event, but knows that it will be worth it when she and Harlan get to see how much the seniors and juniors are enjoying prom.

“I hope the seniors and juniors will get together and have a good time,” Balakrishnan said. “I feel like because of COVID-19, [the junior and senior] classes never got to bond together, and everyone kind of just stayed in their friend groups and never really branched out. We are really hoping that prom will create an environment in which new people can meet and friendships can form.”