Herald and Journal, May 21, 2001

Another successful year for After Prom, but will it continue?

By Lynda Jensen

Every year, the excitement and grandeur of prom also brings with it the worry for parents of how their young people will decide to celebrate this event.

To keep young people out of trouble, a core group of HLWW parents throw an After Prom party, which is loaded with incentives and community support, designed to avert tragedy.

Endless food, games, treats, and spectacular prizes that range from gadgets to coolers, CDs, headsets, and 19-inch TVs and VCRs are a sample of what is offered at the After Prom, thanks to the work of these volunteers, as well as fundraisers conducted through the year, and sponsorships from local merchants and others.

This year is different

This year, the After Prom offered an Oriental theme, complete with a carved styrofoam dragon head, torah gate and gong, a hypnotist as the guest entertainment - and something else: the unusual turnover of about half its core group of volunteers.

"There will be a changing in the guard," commented Jessica Salonek.

This will be the last year for six out of 12 parents, who work behind-the-scenes to make the After Prom a reality, but the time has come when their tenure is over, Jeanne Brose said. Brose coordinated the decorating this year and is one of those retiring.

The turnover is related to parents with children graduating, in fact one or two of them stayed a year longer to help out, even though they had an empty nest, Brose said.

Key volunteers who chaired committees and met throughout the year were: Kay Bakeberg (in charge of prizes), Peg Lachermeier (games and entertainment), Brose, Laurie Kozitka (registration), all of whom are retiring; Salonek (entertainment), Linda Weber and Gene Gilbert (food), and Connie Jeseritz (treasurer).

Other key people who played vital roles, but were not able to always attend regular meetings were: Karen Westrup, Judy Painschab, Mary Jo Painschab, Colleen Marketon, Dawn Laxen, Sue Sorsoleil, and Mary Kritzeck, Brose said. Sorsoleil and Kritzeck are retiring as well, Brose said.

Will the After Prom party continue? many parents are wondering, Peggy Lachermeier said. "We hope the tradition will continue," Kay Bakeberg said. Bakeberg has been helping After Prom ever since it started in the late 80s, she said.

Fun food and prizes is a major part of what the After Prom is about, giving teens an incentive to stay inside and out of trouble.

A sample of what is given out includes leopard skin items, lava lamps, fuzzy dice, comforters and things that students can use in college, beef jerky, gift certificates, among other things, Bakeberg said.

"It was just awesome," commented Salonek about the After Prom decor and prizes this year.

Many fundraisers are necessary to raise enough money for this, including a pancake breakfast during Good Neighbor Days, football concession stand and bake sale at the Arts and Craft Expo, among other things such as wildlife print raffles.

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