For more than 50 years, parents of students, along with volunteers, in Port Jefferson have made magic out of the stone edifice of the Port Jefferson high school.
While other area school districts host their proms in outside venues, every year, the Senior Prom Committee in Port Jeff works for months on end creating an elaborate design for the annual senior prom, tailoring the high school’s gymnasium, cafeteria and bathrooms to fit a theme, one that often takes a magical or fantasy bent. Andy Fortier, who is in charge of the prom’s construction, said he sees the prom as magical — one last time for youth to be youth before it heads into adulthood.
“Prom is the most beautiful thing, you put into it what you get out of it,” he said. “When you see your kid walk down that red carpet, it’s something magical. This lets the kids be kids again for one more time.”
While the outpouring of funds from the community changes year to year, Fortier said some costs have increased close to 30 percent since he started helping with the Port Jeff prom eight years ago. It’s not so much construction material that has gone up in price, but insurance, catering and lighting, things Fortier said the committee has little control over.
Fortier, a musician and artist in the village, said work goes on all year from whatever time its volunteers are willing to give. He’s thankful for whatever people can offer, whether its work from volunteers or support from the community.
Port Jeff resident Angela Crugnale, who runs the overall operation and financing of the prom, said prices for construction materials will fluctuate from year to year, and while she said the committee does not release the total cost for the prom, this year the prices of materials were much higher than in previous years.
“It seems that this year, everything we’re purchasing has really gone up,” Crugnale said. “Everything across the board it seems has gone up from last year.”
The committee gets most of its funding from parents of the students graduating from the school, which often graduates less than 100 students per class. The 2018 graduating class numbered 89. This year’s graduating class is expected to be at 98.
The prom committee looks to the families of these graduating students to sell raffle tickets to other locals at $100 per ticket to make up much of the prom’s funding, the winner of which can win $20,000 as first prize and $300 for second. Each family of a graduating senior is asked to sell 10 tickets, though there’s nothing to force them to do so.
“It’s kind of the gift from the senior parents to the senior class,” Crugnale said. “The prom has happened since [the 1950s] either way, whether we have $100 or $900, just to say, the prom will be the prom.”
Starting in October and working through the end of June, Crugnale and Fortier said the work is nonstop, and it depends entirely on volunteers, from painting scenes and thinking of creative scenes that are also interactive. Crugnale, who started working with the prom committee in 2012, even before her first child graduated in 2012, said the school district has become more involved in the prom over time.
“I loved it from the first moment I saw it, I knew it was special,” she said. “It’s super nice kids get to be involved in something like this. I wanted this to continue to be something for all the kids in Port Jeff.”
The prom committee is hosting its annual golf outing May 6 to finance the prom. Tickets are at $150 a person for a full day of 18 holes of golf and afterward will attend a separate dinner at Harbor Grill at 6 p.m. Tickets for dinner are separate and are priced at $50 a head. Tickets are open to village residents and others alike. To reserve a foursome or for more information, residents are asked to contact Mike Ambrozy at 917-270-7436, firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Desmond at 631-331-6946,
If residents wish to purchase raffle tickets, they can contact the prom committee at email@example.com.