Return to on-campus prom, conveniences staff



Language arts teacher Emily Dohogne and art teacher John Brandhorst work to create an on-campus prom. Since the event is in the gym, tickets are less expensive.

Maddie Shaw

After having prom off-campus for the past few decades, Midtown is returning to an on-campus prom this year.

While this decision has been met with some backlash from students, steps are being taken to ensure that the on-campus prom will have decor similar to those that have been held off-campus.

 Language Arts teacher Emily Dohogne is heading the planning of the prom for the second year in a row. Last year’s prom was held at Georgia Tech.

“I took over it last year from Ms. [Lawson] Yale in January,” Dohogne said. “So, last year, I inherited the theme and the venue.”

Dohogne said there were a number of reasons why prom was moved on campus this year, but the main factors were cost and safety. 

“Last year, it cost $18,000 to have it at Georgia Tech,” Dohogne said. “In addition to that, it was more because we had to get a U-Haul to get all of the stuff here to the venue and then we had to clear everything out. Also, there were safety concerns last year because [the venue] was on that downtown, busy street, so that was a cause for concern with all of the moving parts.”

Art teacher John Brandhorst is assisting Dohogne in the planning process and has planned proms for Midtown for over 20 years. Due to prom being on campus, the school can control security, and Brandhorst believes that will have a big impact on student safety.

“Security and the [the city] curfew are a big deal,” Brandhorst said. “If something were to happen on campus, the school can handle it in school ways because you’re on campus at a school event. The parents need to be able to know where their kids are and that they’re safe.”

With the changes to the venue, prom tickets are now less expensive. Last year, prom tickets, at their highest, were $85, and now, tickets are currently selling for $55.

“There were a lot of complaints about price last year,” Dohogne said. “And, we had a very hard time getting volunteers to get [to Georgia Tech], so it was a big stressor on us. We’d had some people that expressed that we should have prom here. We knew we could bring down the price and have a lot more options with food vendors, and it gave us a lot more autonomy and a lot more time to set up.”

Brandhorst believes holding the prom at Midtown will allow more members of the community to get involved and make the prom a community event.

“We can have more people volunteer because it’s on campus, and we’re now allowed to,” Brandhorst said. “When it’s off-campus, you’re not allowed to. They have professionals who will take care of catering; they have a certain beverage and food minimum purchase.”

In addition to repainting the red steps in front of the gyms, there will be a lot of decor disguising the gym. 

“We’re gonna have a lot of lights; we’re lighting the stairs up toward the gym and the backdrop,” Dohogne said. “We’re also planning to light that whole tree in the courtyard. We’re renting tents, big industrial event tents for the courtyard. When you go into the gym, none of the regular lights will be used. The gym floor and walls will be covered.”

Senior Riley Browning has been involved with the planning and is in favor of having prom at the school.

“I think that at the end of the day, as long as we’re together, the venue doesn’t really matter,” Browning said. “They’re working overtime to make it great and as good as it was last year. From what I’ve seen, it honestly makes more sense [to have prom on campus] because they can spend so much more money on decorations and things the students want.”

Despite any backlash, Dohogne believes students are more understanding after they learn the changes being made.

“Everyone I’ve talked to and walked through it with and the couple of kids who are helping us with lighting have been really surprised by the things we’re doing,” Dohogne said. “Hopefully, the atmosphere will be different than what students expect. We were able to pay for more florals and more different kinds of foods that are going to enhance the space in general.”

Currently, the plan is to continue having prom on campus in the coming years. Brandhorst believes this will allow the prom to develop.

‘It’s a chance to create a new tradition, like having the Homecoming dance, which was a wild success,” Brandhorst said. “We’d be joining the other schools that are pulling back from a corporate prom with all of the fundraising and the necessity of the off-campus.”

Dohogne has been keeping feedback from students in mind while planning.

“I would expect students to have a good time,” Dohogne said. “I’ve continually, throughout the process, asked my own kids, just to inform me what they want. So, even if they think I’m not considering it, every single decision made is considering what would be best for [the students].”

As a senior, this is Browning’s last prom, and she believes having it at school will be a good way to end her high school career.

“I think this prom will be a good way to celebrate with our class,” Browning said. “It’ll be the last month, and we’ll be heading out as seniors. It’s at the school, which is a place we all know very well. So, it’s not going to be stressful; it’ll be fun.”