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Friday, July 12, 2024

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Port Jeff Prom to Remember

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Prom season is one the greatest highlights of any student’s high school experience, if not the greatest. Often seen as the quintessential end-of-an-era party, the anticipation for the event is easily on par, if not exceeded, by the preparation, planning, and coordination for such a large-scale event.

But Port Jefferson High School seniors are annually treated with a much larger ceremony, an amalgam of community members, volunteers, and even local government to pull off their larger-than-life high-school send-off event.

Monday evening was the highly successful culmination of nearly nine months of planning and coordination of the Prom Committee. Over ninety students, 140 when dates were included, rolled up in limousines, luxury vehicles, and even an ice cream truck to walk the red carpet into Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. Inside, the basketball court and surrounding halls were transformed into an underwater scene straight out of Jules Verne’s classical novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

“We begin planning in October, and parents come in with ideas for the theme already developed,” Paul Braile, President of the Prom Committee told The Messenger. “We’ll vote on an idea for a theme, and then we’ll spend October to January developing that idea. January up to today, we design the scenery and lighting and paint the props.”

Braile says that such a monumental task would not be possible without the community.

“They lend their skill sets, talents, and knowledge to help us. This is all about the kids, but without the community supporting us and volunteering their time, this would probably cost about a quarter-million dollars,” said Braile.

Braile says the event sees about eighty to 150 volunteers per day during the week of the build.

Braile also said that while the initial 20,000 Leagues theme was at first “unidentifiable,” the pitch was so “stunning,” that the committee felt compelled to take up the idea as the 2024 theme.

“The designer had an incredible vision,” said Braile, calling the presentation “theatrical.” “We saturated it with color, flair, and theatrical elements, and put the entire basketball court underwater.”

Costs of vehicles of the students’ choosing were not of the Prom Committee’s oversight. Students and their families were responsible for any costs associated with sourcing the vehicles in which they wished to arrive.

The show-stealer was undoubtedly one couple who arrived in a Mister Softee ice cream truck, surprising the crowd of parents and easily fooling the young children in attendance.

Braile also says that the Village of Port Jefferson helped coordinate road closures and public notices of the caravan of vehicles that would require queuing space on Main Street near Old Post Road. Braile says the Village has always been cooperative and the community is always gracious in allowing the seniors to ride in style to their final high school memory.

Prom season is one the greatest highlights of any student’s high school experience, if not the greatest. Often seen as the quintessential end-of-an-era party, the anticipation for the event is easily on par, if not exceeded, by the preparation, planning, and coordination for such a large-scale event.

But Port Jefferson High School seniors are annually treated with a much larger ceremony, an amalgam of community members, volunteers, and even local government to pull off their larger-than-life high-school send-off event.

Monday evening was the highly successful culmination of nearly nine months of planning and coordination of the Prom Committee. Over ninety students, 140 when dates were included, rolled up in limousines, luxury vehicles, and even an ice cream truck to walk the red carpet into Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. Inside, the basketball court and surrounding halls were transformed into an underwater scene straight out of Jules Verne’s classical novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

“We begin planning in October, and parents come in with ideas for the theme already developed,” Paul Braile, President of the Prom Committee told The Messenger. “We’ll vote on an idea for a theme, and then we’ll spend October to January developing that idea. January up to today, we design the scenery and lighting and paint the props.”

Braile says that such a monumental task would not be possible without the community.

“They lend their skill sets, talents, and knowledge to help us. This is all about the kids, but without the community supporting us and volunteering their time, this would probably cost about a quarter-million dollars,” said Braile.

Braile says the event sees about eighty to 150 volunteers per day during the week of the build.

Braile also said that while the initial 20,000 Leagues theme was at first “unidentifiable,” the pitch was so “stunning,” that the committee felt compelled to take up the idea as the 2024 theme.

“The designer had an incredible vision,” said Braile, calling the presentation “theatrical.” “We saturated it with color, flair, and theatrical elements, and put the entire basketball court underwater.”

Costs of vehicles of the students’ choosing were not of the Prom Committee’s oversight. Students and their families were responsible for any costs associated with sourcing the vehicles in which they wished to arrive.

The show-stealer was undoubtedly one couple who arrived in a Mister Softee ice cream truck (pictured above), surprising the crowd of parents and easily fooling the young children in attendance.

Braile also says that the Village of Port Jefferson helped coordinate road closures and public notices of the caravan of vehicles that would require queuing space on Main Street near Old Post Road. Braile says the Village has always been cooperative and the community is always gracious in allowing the seniors to ride in style to their final high school memory.

Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.