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DeKalb County schools, students prepare for prom's costs

As one of Sycamore High School’s junior class’s four male officers, Michael Hermes knew they would need help planning prom, so he recruited about 20 people to plan the annual celebration.

This was no light task for the students, who spent several meetings crunching numbers so they would come in under budget for the event.

“For a school the size of Sycamore, it costs about $20,000 to $25,000 to put on a prom,” Hermes said.

Every year, prom expenses are a hot topic among schools, students and families, but some families continue to splurge. DeKalb’s prom tickets cost $55 per person, while tickets to Sycamore’s prom are $120 per couple, and prom dresses can cost hundreds of dollars.

Both Sycamore and DeKalb high schools will hold their proms at the Duke Ellington Ballroom at the Holmes Student Center on the Northern Illinois University campus. DeKalb’s prom is Saturday, while Sycamore’s is May 18. The night includes dinner, dancing and lots of memories.

Sheri Emmert, whose son, David, is a senior at Sycamore High, said she’s gone through the prom experience with her older daughter. She said the dress, shoes, accessories, hair and nails are all costs for the girls that add up.

“You try to shop around and find good deals, but the prices of prom dresses are such a big range,” she said.

Diane Hosey, owner of Ducky’s Formal Wear, at 112 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, said dresses can range anywhere between $85 to $525. The shop also offers dress alterations and tuxedo rentals for men. While cost can be a factor in many students’ prom night, Hosey said it’s a great experience knowing she could help be a part of such a memorable evening.

“The best part is just seeing how excited everybody gets when everything works out the way they dream it to be,” she said.

Emmert said she’s glad to be able to sit back this time around as her son goes through his last prom.

“I do prefer a boy,” she said. “But I think it’s a great night for them and something fun and enjoyable for them.”

DeKalb High School assistant principal Jennie Hueber, a former junior class advisor who chaperones prom each year, said the cost of prom really hasn’t increased for the school. It’s more a matter of the dollar value as more businesses charge more for services and products, she said.

Both DeKalb and Sycamore will hold post-prom events in the Huskie Den at the student center, which is open to all students whether they go to prom or not. The event includes entertainment, activities and food. Sycamore’s post-prom is free, while DeKalb’s is $10.

Michele Cole, mother of Sycamore junior Stephanie Cole, said post-prom is a great way to keep the students safe, while also saving them money.

She said many students often plan activities the day after prom such as a trip to Six Flags Great America. But if they attend post-prom, they won’t feel the need to keep spending on activities.

Cole encourages all Sycamore High students to attend, even those who may not be able to afford the prom itself.

“There’s no reason not to enjoy any part of this evening, no matter what your situation is,” she said.

Sycamore High is still seeking monetary and raffle donations for its post-prom event. To donate raffle prizes, contact Sheri Emmert at 815-899-9456. Send monetary donations to JoAnn Pumroy at 230 W. State St. in Sycamore.

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