COLUMBIA — Tracey Conrad, principal of Hickman High School, acknowledges it's not ideal to hold prom on Good Friday. But, she said her options were limited. She said she could not find an affordable venue large enough to hold the prom on another, more desirable day.
“We certainly want to be cognizant and aware of the conflicts some of the students may have,” Conrad said. She said she had to make a decision in the best interest of all the students.
Still, the scheduling so troubled Hickman alumnus Jeffrey Pauls he said he felt compelled to send Conrad an e-mail Friday.
“The festive nature of prom is such an important event,” he said. “It should be exciting, and they should have a good time, but that superimposed on the most solemn day of the Christian calendar — it’s just impossible to have them both on the same day.”
In the Christian religion, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The holy day, which falls on April 22, is two days before Easter.
Friday nights are also part of the Jewish Sabbath and are holy days in Islam.
Conrad said Hickman contacted 15 possible venues last April but found only three large enough for the high school prom. One venue did not have any openings for the desired days. A second venue had a Saturday night opening another week, but it cost $4,000 more than the venue Hickman chose, which was Memorial Union, she said.
“In order to rent the venue, they would have had to increase (the cost of) prom tickets tremendously,” Conrad said. “We thought that would lower attendance even more so.”
Conrad said the available dates for Memorial Union included the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Easter Sunday. After consulting the assistant superintendent Wanda Brown, Conrad said she decided Friday was the best option because Saturday is the day before Easter and Thursday is a school night.
Columbia resident Kris Pauls, the mother of two Hickman graduates, including Jeffrey Pauls, said she has been trying to persuade the school to change the prom date since she heard about it on the radio. She said she sent an e-mail to Jan Mees, president of the school board, who forwarded the e-mail to Conrad and Brown. She said she also sent e-mails to local Catholic parishes.
Conrad replied to Kris Pauls and explained the limitations, but she said she thought Hickman should consider alternatives.
Kris Pauls said she proposed changing the venue to the Hickman commons area or gymnasium, even though those locations are not as impressive.
“It seems to me the commons area and gym would be big enough,” she said. “I think it would be worth it so families aren’t having to make that decision when the time comes.”
Jeffrey Pauls, said he went to his senior prom with the woman who is now his wife.
“That was an important event in our lives that we shared with each other,” Jeffrey Pauls said. “It would have been a big issue for me.”
Jeffrey Pauls said he would like Hickman to consider alternatives, such as raising the extra $4,000 needed to change the venue through fundraisers.
He said if community organizations — like church or youth groups — were involved, it would be possible to raise the additional funds.
Conrad said she had not heard any other complaints about the prom date.