Washed ashore: Senior prom leaves the yacht for land


Graphic Illustration by Jason Shan

After decades on a yacht in the Bay, senior prom will be held on land due to cost and COVID-19 issues.

Katie Chin and Sam Sarma

Twinkling city lights on the horizon, the Golden Gate Bridge towering above and the swelling of waves underfoot have long been characteristics of Lynbrook’s annual senior prom. Moving forward, however, prom will remain on land. 

Although Lynbrook’s senior prom has been on San Francisco’s Hornblower yacht for the last three decades, this year’s prom will be held in the Corinthian Grand Ballroom in downtown San Jose on May 12, decided ​​after extensive venue searching by the 2023 Class Officers and numerous polls submitted by the senior class.

Due to extenuating circumstances, including the unavailability of the usual Hornblower Yacht, rising costs of bussing and too few chaperones, senior prom on a boat was no longer viable. While the Class of 2022 was able to share a larger boat with another school for their prom, health and safety concerns and Lynbrook’s inability to fill a boat of that size stood in the way of the Class of 2023’s senior prom boat. 

“Traditions sometimes change due to circumstances beyond our control,” Class of 2023 adviser Malissa Goldstein said. “Cost and COVID-19 are issues that we’ve had to navigate over the last few years.”

In an initial shock to the news that administration was considering holding Lynbrook’s senior prom on land, the 2023 Class Officers took to social media, polling students on their preference for land or sea as well as ticket price. Despite the poll results coming back in favor of the boat despite high ticket prices, in October 2022, administration confirmed that the boat was no longer a viable option and the Class Officers began looking for other venues. Unfortunately, by this point in the school year, most venues had already been booked through the weekends until the end of the school year, resulting in a Friday prom date. 

Talks of canceling the senior prom boat tradition had been brought up by administration in earlier years, but at the end of the 2021-22 school year, after a COVID-19 outbreak at senior prom impacted both students and teachers during finals, AP testing and graduation, administration agreed that prom on a boat was neither safe nor practical. In an attempt to minimize health and safety concerns, administration decided that the Class of 2023 should host their senior prom on the weekend of May 12 and classes for the foreseeable future should refrain from the boat setting. 

“I think the initial message of prom not being on a boat should have come from admin and not class office,” senior Tanmayi Rao said. “At the end of the day, the class officers are still students and want to enjoy prom too, so they wouldn’t intentionally make it harder for themselves.”

Additionally, the cost of bussing to and from venues has risen significantly due to circumstances including high gas prices, inflation and COVID-19. Administration decided that it would no longer be cost effective to provide bussing as a service with prom, and therefore, it would not be feasible to have prom as far away as San Francisco. Numbers for teacher and parent-volunteer chaperones were also low, making prom outside of Santa Clara County difficult to organize. 

Prom has also been constrained from the typical six hours to four. The Class Officers had spent the many lunches and tutorials throughout the school year discussing with administration factors included in previous proms, including advocating for a full six hours, but were unable to extend prom to its typical length.

 When prom was finally announced on Wednesday, March 29 via an Instagram post from the Lynbrook2023 account, the comment section quickly turned critical, with students expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of communication about prom, especially upon seeing the expensive ticket price. Despite the shortened length of prom and its location on land, the early-bird price of a prom ticket is $125, while the regular price is $140. Many students expected the ticket price to be cheaper as the boat was a key part of the experience, however, the land venue cost was not all that different. The Lynbrook2023 account posted the allocation of prom’s budget to their Instagram story, noting that the majority of the cost of prom had been spent on a three-course sit-down dinner, which the Class Officers deemed a crucial part of senior prom.

“Senior class officers have been working hard to provide a prom that will provide a unique experience, be memorable and provide the students with opportunities to connect with one another,” Goldstein said.

The dramatics of the comments section in the prom announcement Instagram post has raised questions about the use of social media in class affairs. Overly critical and downright mean comments toward not only prom but also the Class Officers resulted in the comments section being turned off on March 30. Later the same day, Principal Maria Jackson announced alternative pathways to raise concerns.

After careful consideration by administration, prom will be held on land for the foreseeable future. Despite disappointment, students will have to approach prom with optimism in order to make the most of the experience, land or sea.

“At the end of the day, people are gonna be happy either way because prom is more about who you’re hanging out with,” senior Janice Chong said.