Kitchener student organizes her own prom after school refuses to take it on

News Jun 06, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Kitchener Post

Receiving underhanded passes of $20 bills in the hallways between classes. Hiding banned materials from the prying eyes of administrators. Racking up risky debt.

No, Meghan MacIsaac wasn’t spending the last weeks of her Grade 12 year selling something illegal. The Forest Heights Collegiate Institute student was organizing prom.

Unlike many schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board, Forest Heights does not sponsor or organize a prom for its graduating class. For the past half a dozen years or so, students, and their families, have taken on the responsibility.

This year, MacIsaac stood up to the plate, using some of her university tuition money to front the deposits needed before ticket sales, managing a budget of nearly $10,000 and planning an event for 200-plus people. It all came together on June 1 at TheMuseum.

“We spend 14 years going to school. There are so many projects and tears of exhaustion. We try our hardest,” MacIsaac said. “Prom is something every student deserves.”

The student co-president approached administration about setting up a table in the school to sell tickets and promoting the event during the morning announcements. She was told no.

Instead, she and her graduating class arranged ticket sales through social media, but cash was often exchanged discreetly during school hours.

“Our joke was we were selling tickets like a drug deal,” said MacIsaac.

Because of the covert nature of the operation, she decided the theme would be Footloose, based on the 1984 film about students living in a town that had banned dancing and rock and roll.

“Our school took away our right to have a prom, so prom is our rebellion. That’s what Footloose is about,” she said.

Like the prom organizers before her, MacIsaac spent a year putting everything in place. This spring, she spent about six hours a day planning the event, making decorations and working out “every fine detail.” In May, her school work took a back seat, as did university orientations. Last minute, she accepted an offer from the University of Waterloo, one of the only campuses she had a chance to visit.  

Her mom, Barb MacIsaac, aunt, grandmother and church members were recruited to the prom cause — baking cupcakes, sewing table runners and transporting everything to TheMuseum.

Barb had to sign her name to the venue in September, something she was nervous about as the tickets didn’t go on sale until the spring.

“I don’t know we would’ve signed up for this if we knew what was involved,” Barb said. “Seeing the stress and sleepless nights Meghan went through, it’s not fair."

Two weeks ago, only five tickets had been sold — that’s when MacIsaac felt the pressure. But in the final days leading up to prom, almost every graduating student had secured a spot. MacIsaac put on the finishing touches, with a create-your-own pizza station, candy bar, photo booth and DJ, staying up to 4:30 a.m. the night before.  

“We don’t have a formal policy on prom, so some of our high schools have school-sponsored proms and some choose for students to organize independently,” said board spokesperson Lynsey Slupeiks. “It’s what works best for the school community. School administration will work it out with students, together.”

Slupeiks said schools may choose to not sponsor proms because dates or other factors don’t align and the students want to create their own event.

A petition was set up for students to sign when they walked into prom. It requested all schools be required to sponsor prom and was sent to the school board.

“The board needs to take responsibility to make all schools equal,” said Barb.

While MacIsaac enjoys event planning, she said prom is a “very heavy burden” with pressure from students to make it a night to remember and from school staff to do it independently. She wants Forest Heights to sponsor its prom so students across the region have the same graduating experience.

“I saw pictures from other (school-sponsored) proms,” MacIsaac said. “And it breaks my heart because we were never going to be able to organize what those students had.”

Still, all MacIsaac’s hard work paid off and Forest Heights students celebrated their graduation without a single problem. Now, she’s gunning for change.

“I don’t want this to happen again,” she said.

Kitchener student organizes her own prom after school refuses to take it on

News Jun 06, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Kitchener Post

Receiving underhanded passes of $20 bills in the hallways between classes. Hiding banned materials from the prying eyes of administrators. Racking up risky debt.

No, Meghan MacIsaac wasn’t spending the last weeks of her Grade 12 year selling something illegal. The Forest Heights Collegiate Institute student was organizing prom.

Unlike many schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board, Forest Heights does not sponsor or organize a prom for its graduating class. For the past half a dozen years or so, students, and their families, have taken on the responsibility.

This year, MacIsaac stood up to the plate, using some of her university tuition money to front the deposits needed before ticket sales, managing a budget of nearly $10,000 and planning an event for 200-plus people. It all came together on June 1 at TheMuseum.

“We spend 14 years going to school. There are so many projects and tears of exhaustion. We try our hardest,” MacIsaac said. “Prom is something every student deserves.”

The student co-president approached administration about setting up a table in the school to sell tickets and promoting the event during the morning announcements. She was told no.

Instead, she and her graduating class arranged ticket sales through social media, but cash was often exchanged discreetly during school hours.

“Our joke was we were selling tickets like a drug deal,” said MacIsaac.

Because of the covert nature of the operation, she decided the theme would be Footloose, based on the 1984 film about students living in a town that had banned dancing and rock and roll.

“Our school took away our right to have a prom, so prom is our rebellion. That’s what Footloose is about,” she said.

Like the prom organizers before her, MacIsaac spent a year putting everything in place. This spring, she spent about six hours a day planning the event, making decorations and working out “every fine detail.” In May, her school work took a back seat, as did university orientations. Last minute, she accepted an offer from the University of Waterloo, one of the only campuses she had a chance to visit.  

Her mom, Barb MacIsaac, aunt, grandmother and church members were recruited to the prom cause — baking cupcakes, sewing table runners and transporting everything to TheMuseum.

Barb had to sign her name to the venue in September, something she was nervous about as the tickets didn’t go on sale until the spring.

“I don’t know we would’ve signed up for this if we knew what was involved,” Barb said. “Seeing the stress and sleepless nights Meghan went through, it’s not fair."

Two weeks ago, only five tickets had been sold — that’s when MacIsaac felt the pressure. But in the final days leading up to prom, almost every graduating student had secured a spot. MacIsaac put on the finishing touches, with a create-your-own pizza station, candy bar, photo booth and DJ, staying up to 4:30 a.m. the night before.  

“We don’t have a formal policy on prom, so some of our high schools have school-sponsored proms and some choose for students to organize independently,” said board spokesperson Lynsey Slupeiks. “It’s what works best for the school community. School administration will work it out with students, together.”

Slupeiks said schools may choose to not sponsor proms because dates or other factors don’t align and the students want to create their own event.

A petition was set up for students to sign when they walked into prom. It requested all schools be required to sponsor prom and was sent to the school board.

“The board needs to take responsibility to make all schools equal,” said Barb.

While MacIsaac enjoys event planning, she said prom is a “very heavy burden” with pressure from students to make it a night to remember and from school staff to do it independently. She wants Forest Heights to sponsor its prom so students across the region have the same graduating experience.

“I saw pictures from other (school-sponsored) proms,” MacIsaac said. “And it breaks my heart because we were never going to be able to organize what those students had.”

Still, all MacIsaac’s hard work paid off and Forest Heights students celebrated their graduation without a single problem. Now, she’s gunning for change.

“I don’t want this to happen again,” she said.

Kitchener student organizes her own prom after school refuses to take it on

News Jun 06, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Kitchener Post

Receiving underhanded passes of $20 bills in the hallways between classes. Hiding banned materials from the prying eyes of administrators. Racking up risky debt.

No, Meghan MacIsaac wasn’t spending the last weeks of her Grade 12 year selling something illegal. The Forest Heights Collegiate Institute student was organizing prom.

Unlike many schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board, Forest Heights does not sponsor or organize a prom for its graduating class. For the past half a dozen years or so, students, and their families, have taken on the responsibility.

This year, MacIsaac stood up to the plate, using some of her university tuition money to front the deposits needed before ticket sales, managing a budget of nearly $10,000 and planning an event for 200-plus people. It all came together on June 1 at TheMuseum.

“We spend 14 years going to school. There are so many projects and tears of exhaustion. We try our hardest,” MacIsaac said. “Prom is something every student deserves.”

The student co-president approached administration about setting up a table in the school to sell tickets and promoting the event during the morning announcements. She was told no.

Instead, she and her graduating class arranged ticket sales through social media, but cash was often exchanged discreetly during school hours.

“Our joke was we were selling tickets like a drug deal,” said MacIsaac.

Because of the covert nature of the operation, she decided the theme would be Footloose, based on the 1984 film about students living in a town that had banned dancing and rock and roll.

“Our school took away our right to have a prom, so prom is our rebellion. That’s what Footloose is about,” she said.

Like the prom organizers before her, MacIsaac spent a year putting everything in place. This spring, she spent about six hours a day planning the event, making decorations and working out “every fine detail.” In May, her school work took a back seat, as did university orientations. Last minute, she accepted an offer from the University of Waterloo, one of the only campuses she had a chance to visit.  

Her mom, Barb MacIsaac, aunt, grandmother and church members were recruited to the prom cause — baking cupcakes, sewing table runners and transporting everything to TheMuseum.

Barb had to sign her name to the venue in September, something she was nervous about as the tickets didn’t go on sale until the spring.

“I don’t know we would’ve signed up for this if we knew what was involved,” Barb said. “Seeing the stress and sleepless nights Meghan went through, it’s not fair."

Two weeks ago, only five tickets had been sold — that’s when MacIsaac felt the pressure. But in the final days leading up to prom, almost every graduating student had secured a spot. MacIsaac put on the finishing touches, with a create-your-own pizza station, candy bar, photo booth and DJ, staying up to 4:30 a.m. the night before.  

“We don’t have a formal policy on prom, so some of our high schools have school-sponsored proms and some choose for students to organize independently,” said board spokesperson Lynsey Slupeiks. “It’s what works best for the school community. School administration will work it out with students, together.”

Slupeiks said schools may choose to not sponsor proms because dates or other factors don’t align and the students want to create their own event.

A petition was set up for students to sign when they walked into prom. It requested all schools be required to sponsor prom and was sent to the school board.

“The board needs to take responsibility to make all schools equal,” said Barb.

While MacIsaac enjoys event planning, she said prom is a “very heavy burden” with pressure from students to make it a night to remember and from school staff to do it independently. She wants Forest Heights to sponsor its prom so students across the region have the same graduating experience.

“I saw pictures from other (school-sponsored) proms,” MacIsaac said. “And it breaks my heart because we were never going to be able to organize what those students had.”

Still, all MacIsaac’s hard work paid off and Forest Heights students celebrated their graduation without a single problem. Now, she’s gunning for change.

“I don’t want this to happen again,” she said.