After being praised by Seventeen and Reader’s Digest for having the “best prom in America,” Pennsbury High School is not only continuing to meet these ever-growing expectations…it’s shattering them.
On the evening of Saturday, June 1, in the PHS East building, located at 705 Hood Blvd. in Fairless Hills, the graduating class of 2019 gathered for the highly-anticipated “Prom to the Music,” with this year’s theme highlighting music throughout the decades.
At 5:15 p.m., hordes of parents, friends and community members gathered outside the school for the arrival parade tradition. For more than two hours, seniors and their dates were escorted to the front door by swanky cars and massive flatbed trucks, which they meticulously decorated to correspond with the theme. Nods were given to everything from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Disney’s High School Musical.
Unlike the torrential rain in 2018, which saw security doubling as umbrella-holders to ensure hairdos and gowns remained intact, it was crystal-clear weather as the teens walked the red carpet and through the doors of their transformed school, loved ones cheering them on.
Inside, decorations included a two-story, 3D tribute to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, handmade classic album covers, a replica of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building in Cleveland, Ohio, and tributes to various genres sprinkled throughout the hallways. A gigantic Pennsbury Falcon holding a boombox was also a major highlight in the gym.
Each carefully-crafted item was brought to fruition by Pennsbury’s dedicated team of students, parents, teachers and alumni. According to prom adviser Tony Napoli, preparation for the event began a week after 2018’s prom. The junior class voted on five different themes and, after the winning one was chosen, last year’s junior escorts became this year’s senior prom chairs.
The 60 chairs were divided into groups and brainstormed decoration ideas for their assigned building areas throughout the summer. On the first floor, there are eight student areas and four parents areas, including the cafeteria, gym and bathrooms.
Entertainment kicked off at 6 p.m. with The Faculty Band, which is comprised of current and retired PHS teachers, including Napoli on guitar and bass. The band has been together for 15 years and performs at area weddings and parties.
“But the prom is where we really shine. The students treat us like rock stars and it’s just a lot of fun,” Napoli said. “I always have to add in that the faculty band kicked butt. It was literally the most fun I had all year. We played for an hour and a half, and they love seeing their teachers up there, singing, playing the guitar and rocking out.”
The Faculty Band played Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” during which a conga line of more than 300 students was formed.
In the gym at 7:45 p.m., the crowning of the prom king (Dan Scherepko) and queen (Tori Petry) was conducted by Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a 1983 graduate of Pennsbury.
“Turns out, he was actually on the prom committee when he was in school and he remembered painting murals in the gym in 1983,” Napoli said.
Next on the agenda was a performance by Desiigner, a 21-year-old Brooklyn, New York, native best known for his 2016 single “Panda.”
Dinner followed, in addition to the students’ attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest mural of kisses. Throughout the evening, lip prints were glued to a wall-sized, 3D sign spelling “ROCK MUSIC.” An 18-foot-tall guitar (also covered with kisses) served as the centerpiece for the 53-foot-long mural.
“I don’t think it’s official yet, but the record we were trying to beat was 13,000 kisses, and we had over 40,000,” Napoli said. “It’s just going to be a matter of Guinness checking all of our information and watching the videotape, because we had to videotape the entire process. It was a lot of work.”
When the clock struck midnight, it was finally time for the man of the hour. For the third consecutive year, Jersey Shore star Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio graced the Pennsbury stage, playing a set he created exclusively for the students. Energy was at an all-time high, and those lucky enough to snag a front row spot can be seen in a selfie video DelVecchio posted on Twitter to his 3.9 million followers.
“I thought it was one of the best, if not our best prom to date as far as everything going off without a hitch. Weather cooperated, kids were great, entertainers were good,” Napoli said. “It’s another one in the books.” ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com