Home-schoolers attend prom alternative

Saturday, May 7, 2011 | 4:02 p.m. CDT; updated 4:13 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 7, 2011
Shelby Butterworth and Alex Chavez dance together during the "mixer" part of An Elegant Evening, a prom-like event for home-schoolers. The event includes classical dances and a Senior March. Local home-schoolers have held the event for the past five years.

COLUMBIA — Dressed in a white gown with sky blue trim and showcasing tightly wrapped curls senior Shelby Butterworth was primed for prom, glitter-dusted from head to toe.  

But “prom” was not what attendees at The Tiger Hotel were calling Friday night's celebration.


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An Elegant Evening, a prom alternative for home-schoolers, has drawn students, parents and chaperons for the past five years.

“A few years ago, some home-school moms wanted to have a special evening where kids could dress up and act like ladies and gentlemen,”  said Cindy Smock, teen leader of the Mid-Missouri Co-op of Home Educators.

“But we didn’t want to use the term prom because of its sometimes negative connotation,” she said.

Tatiana Beesley graduated last year but came as an escort for her home-schooled boyfriend, who is a senior. She said the event was just like a regular prom but with better chaperons, no drinking and no inappropriate behavior.

Doors opened at 7 p.m., and guests packed the ballroom hallway, posed for pictures with dates and friends and waited for the Senior March to begin.

Inside the ballroom, attendees stood in the back to watch the seniors make their entrances with their moms or dads.

“Senior Jennifer Willis escorted by Dale Willis,” the announcer said.

Tammy Willis, Jennifer’s mom, said she appreciates the family-driven atmosphere.

Jennifer Willis said she doesn’t see why people wouldn’t want their parents at prom.

“It’s nice that she’s here for me,” Jennifer Willis said. “I get to hang out with her.”

"Pride and Prejudice"-style dancing, as described by Butterworth, was next on the agenda.

“I think the dances are way cooler than the ones they have at public schools,” Butterworth said. “You’re actually dancing. It’s more of a ball type of thing.”

Classical music from a live band filled the air as the announcer asked gentlemen to “secure the honor of a lady.”

Hand in hand, 57 young men and 53 young women weaved through the room during the Grand March.

“The home-schoolers do a lot of activities together — mystery night, hay rides, things that regular kids do,” Smock said. “But this is the special one.”

Butterworth said she started getting ready at 11 a.m.

“I’ve been shopping for days and was at the mall all last night . . . . This is the biggest thing we have,” she said.

“It is definitely the event of the year,” Smock said.

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April Dawn May 9, 2011 | 10:20 a.m.

This is so great! I wish I could have done something like this in public school opposed to the "Prom" with so many expectations. This is a great idea.

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