MILWAUKEE — After COVID-19 forced a pause, prom is back at Milwaukee area high schools. But there is a price tag attached to prom, and time to pay for the big night is running short.
Hamilton High School's prom is set to happen next week on May 14, and right now, the parents and staff who are organizing prom are a long way from their fundraising goal.
"These kids will have a prom no matter what," said Sabrina Sedlar. She's a mom on a mission to save prom. "Parents started talking about, if we couldn't have prom we'd just hold one outside school. That's what got our GoFundMe started," she explained.
Soon, Milwaukee Public Schools approved plans for prom district-wide. Now all that's left to do is raise the money for the event. And it needs to happen quickly.
When asked how much putting on a prom can cost, Sedlar said "anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000. Prom is a big expensive business!"
Typically students do things like sell Kringles, popcorn, or concessions at high school sports games to raise money to cover it, but a lot of that couldn't happen because of COVID-19.
"I don't know, I have a credit card," Sedlar said joking as she considered what might happen if no money ends up being raised. Organizers behind the dance are hoping the community steps up and, in the meantime, are saving anywhere possible. For example, a playlist and some borrowed speakers will replace the DJ. "Even though we're cutting corners, it will still be something that they remember. Or at least I hope they will!" added Sedlar.
She said the number one priority is money to cover the venue and ticket sales for the dance will help. "But the more you raise your ticket price, the more you lose students that are able to go," she noted.
Jessica Johnson is helping make sure teens and their families don't have to make that choice. "From dresses to rentals for tuxedos and shoes and hair - everything is so much more expensive than it used to be," said the founder of the I Owe Youth Foundation. The foundation provides those things and more, for free, with the help of businesses like ShaeShoebox.
"We do a little thing where they ring a bell when they find the dress," shared Johnson.
It's aimed at students at all schools, but connecting with kids at Hamilton is extra special. It's where Johnson went to high school. "I loved high school," she recalled. "I loved all the teachers. I liked the experience. I had a good time in high school, so it was great to see some of the students there be excited."
And Hamilton is not the only school looking for this kind of support. Assata High School is also using GoFundMe to try and raise money to give students a memorable prom night.