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The battle of the proms

Updated: May 27

An insiders look at a public school’s prom and a private school’s prom

Audrey Roeder

Staff Writer 

May 23, 2024

The battle of the dresses: Dress #1 and Lilly Taverez are pictured on the left and dress #2 Sam Malasto are pictured on the right.

Have you ever wondered if there is a difference between a public school prom and a private school prom? If so, you’re in luck because I just so happened to attend both a public school and a private school prom. I would like to preface this by saying I am not hating on or bashing either of the proms as I had an enjoyable time at both of them. I also want to give a shout-out to Westfield’s Student Government for putting together a great night.

The public school prom I attended was obviously Westfield’s, which I went to with my best friend, and the private school prom I attended was my boyfriend’s school, Cathedral High School. Attending one prom with my best friend and the other with my boyfriend definitely made my experiences at the dances different, but I didn’t let that sway my opinions on either prom.

The first prom I attended was Cathedral’s since it was the weekend before Westfield’s. I started my day by getting ready by myself before driving to my boyfriend’s house. Once I got to his house we did what every other couple does on prom day, got a thousand pictures taken by our parents. After that, my boyfriend and I drove to meet some of his friends before heading to our pre-prom activities. A parent of a Cathedral student was nice enough to rent out Hillcrest Golf Course for any Cathedral prom attendees to go to for food, pictures, and mingling. I would say there was a good 250-300 people at the golf course, not to mention 250-300 people I had never met before, so to say I felt out of place is an understatement. Although I had a good time with my boyfriend and it was nice to meet some of his friends. I personally would’ve preferred going to dinner just the two of us instead.

Which is exactly what my best friend and I did the day of Westfield’s prom. Unlike the calm morning I had the weekend before, I found myself in a Macy’s dressing room at 10 in the morning of Westfield’s prom. Due to some wardrobe malfunctions happening with my original dress, my mom and I were on the hunt for another prom dress hours before I had to start getting ready. Thankfully, I found a gorgeous dress that I liked even better than my first one. After my dress debacle was resolved the rest of the day went by with ease. Once I left the mall I made my way to my best friend's house to pick her up. From there we drove to Trader Joe's to buy some flowers to make our own bouquets. Immediately after that, we drove back to our house to start getting ready. Although it was relaxing to take my time getting ready the week prior, getting ready with my best friend while listening to music and talking was much more enjoyable. 

At last, we were done getting ready about two hours later. We made our bouquets and rushed out the door to go take pictures. This year we decided to take our pictures at Coxhall Gardens, much like half of the school). There we met up with our parents and took some cute pictures before starting our descent to dinner. A few weeks prior we made a reservation at Ristorante Roma, which did not disappoint. The food and service were absolutely amazing, although it was a bit on the pricier side. That being said, I would definitely go back but probably only for special occasions.

Cathedral’s prom was located at Crane Bay Event Center, which had many pros and very few cons. The venue was very spacious and fancy, and I’d like to shout out to whoever coordinated the event for decorating the space nicely. When we first walked in we were greeted by Cathedral’s counselors, who checked us in, with a big white cloth blocking off the rest of the venue. Once we walked past the white cloth we entered a large room that was divided into two sections. The first half of the room was full of tables with food. Then there were two sets of clear, empty shelves, which divided the room. On the other side of the shelves was a big dance floor next to a stage with a DJ booth. Surrounding the stage was an abundance of tables and places to sit, which was very nice after wearing heels all night. Since the prom was at an event center there was lots of parking within close proximity to the building, which was once again great for someone wearing heels all night. The only negative thing about the venue was the lack of an outdoor area. Tucked away on the side of the building was a door to a small outdoor area, but we did not discover it until we were leaving as the door was not around any prom activities.

For a quite difference scenery, Westfield’s prom was held at the Indiana State Museum. I would like to mention that I attended prom last year (as a sophomore) which was also held at the Indiana State Museum, so a little disclaimer as I’m slightly biased against the venue. Although I can say that the idea of having prom at a museum is really cool, I thought it was underwhelming as I went last year and nothing changed. And I will agree that being able to walk around an exhibit is a fun addition to prom night, I wish they opened a different exhibit this year. 

The layout was the same as last year; on the lower level, a big dance floor in front of a massive INDIANA statue with a drink station a few tables close by, and the entrance to the exhibit. Unfortunately, a majority of the tables were high tops, and the ones that weren’t had minimal chairs, so there was not many places to sit. On the top level, there was a balcony looking over the dance floor, a small photo booth, and the restaurant, which had a large window also overlooking the dance floor. Attached to the restaurant was a big outdoor area that overlooked the canal. Unlike Catherdal’s venue, one thing that I found annoying was the parking situation. Although I’m aware there probably is not a solution to this problem as the Indiana State Museum is downtown, it is a little inconvenient to have to walk to and from the parking lot, especially for people in heels.

In my opinion the biggest difference between the two proms was the food. One could assume that the budget for a private school prom was much higher than one for a public school, I felt that was obvious in the food at the two events.

The food selection at Cathedral’s prom was exceptional. From what I can remember there were three types of gourmet-looking pizza, two types of mac & cheese, salads with various dressings, homemade Auntie Anne’s style pretzels and cinnamon sugar pretzels (which was paired with icing), fruit salad, and chicken tenders; however, I’m sure there was more. Later on in the evening a variety of desserts. The once empty, clear shelves, had mini cupcakes (chocolate and vanilla), chocolate-covered strawberries, and mini brownies. Then on two clear shelves hanging from the ceiling were four different flavored mini pudding cups; Reese’s, Oreo, lemon and raspberry, and chocolate fudge. Lastly, off to the side, they had a drink station which had regular and pink lemonade, water, cucumber water, melon & other fruit water, and tea.

Out of all the food, I tried the chicken tenders, mac & cheese, regular and cinnamon sugar pretzels, salad, and fruit. For the most part, the food was excellent. The only thing I was not a fan of was the pretzels. The regular pretzels were kind of dry and lacked salt and the cinnamon sugar ones did not have enough cinnamon sugar. Despite that, the food genuinely looked fancy and like it was made with love. I have a big sweet tooth, so of course I had to try as many of the desserts as possible. I tried the mini cupcakes (both chocolate and vanilla of course), chocolate-covered strawberries, and all four flavors of the pudding cups. Every dessert exceeded my expectations except the lemon & raspberry pudding and the Reese’s. The lemon and raspberry was a lemon pudding base with a single raspberry on top, but the lemon flavoring was way too overpowering for my liking. The Reese’s pudding cup had the same issue, the peanut butter flavor overpowered the chocolate to the point that I could barely taste any chocolate. Overall I was very impressed with the variety, flavor, and look of the food.

Although I do not think the food at Westfield’s prom was as good as Cathedral’s, I think this is because the food options were on two different levels. I do not know if I simply did not see the food options or if they were all eaten by the time I visited the food tables, but from what I saw Westfield only had dessert options and fruit. On the lower level, next to the INDIANA statue were three tables with small dessert options such as mini brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other miscellaneous treats. Next to the tables and seating area was the drink table which had regular and strawberry lemonade, tea, and water. On the top level, in the restaurant, there were a few food tables, which at one point in the night had some kind of food on them. Since I had a large dinner before Westfeld’s prom I was not too hungry so I cannot give a true review on the food. The only food that I did try was the chocolate-covered strawberries, which were obviously amazing.

From the second my boyfriend and I got there to the end of the night people were dancing on the dance floor, this was not the case at Westfield’s prom. I would say people did not start dancing until after 9 o’clock. I believe this was due to the music that was being played. The DJ played lots of early 2000s-2010s songs, which I normally would not have an issue with; however, I felt as if many of the songs were not songs to get up and dance to. The DJ at Cathedral’s prom was very different. He played lots of trendy and popular songs along with a few classic 2010 songs. I think music is a huge contributor to the vibes of an event, especially a dance and I feel Westfield’s did not play songs with a dancing/partying vibe.

To wrap things up I truly enjoyed myself at both proms despite them being very different. Even though on paper Cathedral’s prom seems better, I can not pick a favorite. It was really cool to be able to go to a different school’s prom and get to spend time with my boyfriend, however, I had a sense of comfort at Westfield's prom since I was surrounded by people I knew. Both proms had their positives and negatives, but nothing stopped me from having equally the same amount of fun at both proms.

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