by Allison Vickery
The Prom All-Nighter has been a big tradition in American high schools for many years, but lack of participation has made the school question its continuation.
All juniors at Hudson High School are invited to the Prom All-Nighter. A junior does not have to go to prom to go to the all-nighter. However, not a lot of the junior class attends the All-Nighter after prom.
“We’ve seen a declining participation in the time that I’ve been assistant principal. But that’s something that the Home and School Association is very much aware of. And they really try to change the way that they do the All-Nighter in ways that will attract more students and raise the participation,” says Assistant Principal Josh Otlin.
The administration are not the only ones who have noticed the decrease in attendance.
“Last year, I think there were not that many students, which was probably a big turn out for them,” says junior Darren Otte. “It really does affect how fun it is because I feel like if there’s more people, there’s more things to do.”
The Home and School Association is well aware of the decrease in attendance from the juniors and their guests over the past couple of years.
“Last year there were 87 students, that would be juniors and their guests. Five years ago we had over 200,” says Head of the Home and School Association, Lori Bruneau.
Declining participation is not the only reason the Home and School Association considered cancelling it this year.
“They were worried that there was not enough interest from parents and enough willingness from parents that are willing to pull this off. The last couple of years they’ve had a really tough time recruiting parents to volunteer. They scramble, and they’re begging last minute for volunteers,” says Otlin.
Even though the decrease in student participation is a growing concern, the problem is finding enough parent volunteers to keep the All-Nighter going.
“This coming year was the first time we thought about cancelling due to lack of volunteer help more so than the lack of student participation,” says Bruneau. “It takes a lot of parent volunteers to make this happen, and once word got out that it may be cancelled parents step up to volunteer.”
Despite the declining attendance, administration believes the event has real value.
“It’s pretty common in American high schools since like the late 80s and early 90s after there was a series of really highly publicized drinking and driving deaths after proms,” says Otlin. “In response to that a lot of schools and parent volunteers started organizing after prom events as a way to minimize the likelihood or chances of students being injured and killed in accidents involving drinking or driving after the prom.”
The school wants to provide a positive, safe, social opportunity after the prom for students and to try to reduce the students making risky choices after the prom. The Prom All-Nighter prevents a lot of these choices from happening.
“A number of coaches, in the spring season, they tell their athletes to either go home directly after prom or participate in the All-Nighter,” says Otlin. “We encourage kids to make good choices after the prom, but we have a lot of students that are student-athletes. We certainly don’t require coaches to do that or expect them to. They take initiative, and we’re supportive of it.”
Setting up the Prom All-Nighter is a big effort. The Home and School Association, an organization made entirely of parent volunteers, has raised close to $8,000 through volunteer donations. A big portion of it is used for the Prom All-Nighter.
“The Home and School Association needs to make reservations for the venue,” says Otlin. “They need to book a lot of different vendors and performers and entertainers. They need to recruit a lot of volunteers for that night for check-in and sort of help over at the Wayside Racquet Club, where it takes place. And they also need to assemble a lot of supplies, some of which are donations and some they go out and buy. And then they need to do a lot of set up and do a lot of break down.”
The Home and School Association is made up of parents of students that attend Hudson Public Schools. It’s a small group of parents who are the core members. There is a group of elected officers who lead the group.
The Home and School Association are also the chaperones for the All-Nighter, which can make it awkward and uncomfortable for the students.
“There’s people watching you there, at all times, which is kind of weird,” says Otte.
Another issue that students also have about the Prom All-Nighter is what happens when you decide not to go, after you have signed up.
“Students show up. They do a check in process. They confirmed that they’ve signed up and preregistered. They can’t just show up after the prom. They have to be preregistered. There is a bag search. Kids get on buses, go over to Wayside, and we drop them off,” says Otlin.
Every year there are students who do not show up. According to Otlin, in almost every case, their parents are called, and the parent says that they were exhausted and decided to come home after the prom.
“There has been times where I haven’t been able to reach a parent or locate a student, but that sort of thing is on the parent. I can’t go track young adults down at night,” says Otlin.
Students understand the point of the All-Nighter and that parents are trying to create an environment that is safe from parties and bad choices, but sometimes students want to make their own decisions.
“I think they’re just trying to have us all get along, really. They are trying to really make it fun for all of us and have a safe environment, but not everyone is going to want that,” says Otte. “It’s kind of like an organized effort to get kids to go there, but it doesn’t really work out.”
However, there are other students who enjoyed their time at the Prom All-Nighter. A few students even went to this event who did not go to the prom.
“Every junior has a plus one, and my friend already had a date for prom. They were both juniors, and they were already going to the All-Nighter. So she invited me,” says junior Heather Alzapiedi. “I did have fun at the All-Nighter and will probably go again this year.”
Despite the rocky start this year, the Home and School Association is now ready for this year’s celebration.
“Home and School is making sure that they got the parent volunteers to pull this off. And they’ve got that now,” says Otlin. “But the other part is having the students turn out. I think Home and School has been pretty clear that they will run the All-Nighter regardless of how many students participate.”