COLUMBIA — Hickman High School’s prom has been moved from April 22 — Good Friday — to April 16. The switch comes in the wake of several complaints lodged with the school’s administration about the initial date of the prom.
Hickman Principal Tracey Conrad was limited in prom venue and date choices because of scheduling and budget limitations, she said in a previous Missourian article. Administrators chose MU's Memorial Union as the prom's venue because of the cost. The only available date was April 22.
But a cancellation at the Holiday Inn Executive Center, 2200 I-70 Drive S.W., allowed Hickman to make the switch to April 16, although rent at the venue is higher than at Memorial Union.
“When a Hickman alum said they would raise the difference, we were able to rent it for a different night,” she said.
Hickman was contacted Monday morning by an alumnus representing a group of Columbia residents who offered to raise the money for a venue change if the prom was rescheduled, according to a Columbia Public Schools news release. Hickman contacted the Holiday Inn Executive Center and was informed about the April 16 opening.
Ed Baker, the vice president of operations for the Holiday Inn Executive Center, was willing to underwrite a portion of the cost to make the venue more affordable for students, the release stated.
Hickman alumnus Jeffrey Pauls wrote to Conrad in January, urging her to reconsider the date of the prom. Pauls said the date change relieves families that observe the Christian holy day from being put in an unfair position.
“I think the best part about it is that a lot of students and their families will not have to make this difficult choice or are not put in a position where they have to pit their faith and religious beliefs against an important milestone and event in their lives and their children's lives,” he said.
Pauls said he hopes Hickman administrators learned something from the situation and will act more quickly in the future.
"Maybe now, after hearing from enough people, hopefully they understood that was not a good decision initially," he said. "It didn’t keep in mind the students, which is, in the end, what the administration should be focused on."
Although no parents of current students complained about the prom’s previous date, Conrad said it was important to the school to work with the community on the issue.
“Obviously, it is a conflict in principle,” she said. “Most parents would allow their students to attend (on Good Friday), but if we can avoid conflict we’re going to do so.”