School Board Declines Offer For Joint Prom With PJCC

“The Elgin public board leadership is uncomfortable moving forward with combining proms when nearly 50 percent of EPS juniors and seniors would rather not at this time. They believe it will occur in the future simply due to numbers; but are not going to move forward with an agenda item/vote this year.”
Those words, coming from Superintendent Dan Polk Saturday, draw to a close, at least for now, any consideration on the part of the District #18 Board of Education of Elgin Public and Pope John Central Catholic juniors and seniors sharing prom night in April.
As it stands now, EPS will have prom on April 2 while PJCC will have prom on April 23.
The item was listed as a “discussion” item on the agenda, thus no vote was to be taken during the meeting.
The majority of Wednesday night’s regular school board meeting, lasting just 56 minutes was spent discussing a request from prom organizers Jessie Reestman (EPS) and Connie Henn (PJCC) to bring the two schools together for one prom.
Reestman, saying that Polk “thought the proms should be together,” but having failed previously, said she was given the go-ahead to pursue the matter.
During a heart-felt presentation, she said a joint prom could prove beneficial to the schools (splitting costs), families (cutting costs for clothes, hair, etc. since a number of students attend both proms), organizers from the schools working together instead of on separate proms and for the co-op between the two schools to expand. In addition to sports, students from both schools participate in FFA, ride the same school buses as well as share some classes.
“This is a great opportunity for all to get to know each other, work together for a common goal, and maybe even form new friendships. The opportunity to work as a co-op unifies our schools and our community,” she said.
More than anything else, she said the students want this. Majorities at both schools voted in favor of the idea. At Pope John, she said the vote was 28 to 1 (one person saying it didn’t matter). At EPS, the vote was 15 “for” to 11 “against” or, in percentages, 58 percent in favor compared to 42 percent against.
“A combined vote of 43 to 11 in favor with one saying “I don’t care” speaks volumes to me … The vote shows the majority of students are ready.” Also, she said the Pope John school board voted eight-to-one to support the idea of one prom.
Citing declining class sizes at both schools, Reestman said, “We need each other.”
Board member Robert Hoefer said Reestman painted a “rosy” outlook. He then presented his view of the situation, one which he labeled as “clouds.”
First, he took issue with the way the vote was done at EPS. He said it was presented to the class one day, discussed a little bit, then the students came back the next day to vote. “Classes here”, he said, “didn’t have a chance to be amongst themselves, without adults here, so they could speak their minds”.
He said some students “didn’t want to say anything before because they didn’t want to speak against you (Jessie). When you are a kid you feel intimidated by an adult.”
“She paints a picture of the schools getting along well,” Hoefer went on, “That is not exactly true. There is a lot of animosity, between (some) certain members, some things aren’t going well between schools. Some things are great. The Wolfpack, in general, is a good idea.”
The second-term school board member went on to say that several students have indicated that if Pope John joins, they’re not going to go to the prom.
“To take away that prom from some of ours just to include some of theirs … I understand, in a couple of years our numbers are going to be down. I say worry about it when the time comes … right now, our numbers, we can still have a decent prom here,” Hoefer said.
“It’s not as rosy as it’s been brought forward here,” he added.
No one on the school board spoke up as Hoefer continued to talk. “To me,” he said, “we’ve got a lot of other issues that are a lot more important and I don’t hear a word about that and this little piss’n thing that’s all I hear … in my mind there’s too many negatives that outweigh the positives.”
He then closed his remarks by saying, “As far as I’m concerned, keep them apart until we absolutely have to.”
Reestman asked Hoefer to share what the “negative” things are, adding that this is not for the adults, but for the kids.
Hoefer said he could tell her in three to five minutes, speaking privately, but wouldn’t speak about the issues in a public setting.
Lisa Welding said she supports the idea of a joint prom, but believed it would be best to wait a year, not wanting to mess with fundraising efforts currently underway by parents at both schools.