LOOKS BRIGHT: LaPlace senior working to create safe after-prom fun

Published 11:45 pm Friday, November 14, 2014

By Monique Roth

RESERVE — Riverside Academy student Bethany Duhon is just like any other high school student who looks forward to and is planning for prom in the spring, except in Duhon’s case, an argument could be made she’s preparing even more for a party that will happen after the dance is over.

In the beginning of this school year Duhon spearheaded a new student club to compliment an adult group that plans Prom Mania — Riverside’s after-prom alternative filled with games, prizes, food and wholesome, safe fun.

The 2015 Prom Mania will be the school’s seventh annual affair, which was started in 2009 by a group of RA parents and volunteers, including Duhon’s mother Raelynne and aunts Sandra Lambert and Joanie Keller.

Duhon, who was in seventh grade at Riverside at the time, said she had fun helping her mom and aunts organize the event and was very excited to participate once she got into high school.

Historically, a group of parents, faculty and staff have organized Prom Mania every year, which includes gathering donations from River Region individuals and businesses.

Duhon said this year the adult committee was interested in recruiting RA students to help in the process.

“They wanted someone to start a student club who was passionate about it,” Duhon said, adding she was happy to spearhead the group.

Assistant Principal Dr. Rhonda Perkins said “Bethany took initiative to add the students to the Prom Mania program,” adding it’s encouraging to see the students take such an active role in the planning.

Duhon said the Prom Mania student club, which has approximately 15 members, meets once a month at lunch. She said the group has made posters, spread the word and come up with ideas for T-shirts and fundraisers for the event.

The student group met this week to discuss today’s Prom Mania fundraiser, the second annual Holiday Craft and Gift Bazaar, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Riverside cafeteria, 332 Railroad Avenue in Reserve.

With over 35 vendors selling everything from jewelry and wreaths to desserts and make-up, Duhon is excited to see all of the club’s hard work come together for the benefit of the Riverside students.

An upcoming Prom Mania fundraising event, a Princess Breakfast in January, is another event Duhon is looking forward to.

The breakfast, which will be geared towards younger children and will feature dressed-up princesses and princes, was the brainchild of the student group.

“I brought it to the adult group and they said they loved it so we planned it,” Duhon said. “We have so much parent involvement.”

Previous Prom Mania events featured prizes such as Macbooks, IPads, gift cards, dorm essentials, fishing gear and Jazz Fest tickets.

“Every single bit of it goes back to the kids,” Duhon said. “It brings everyone together like family.”

Duhon said the hard work that goes into planning fundraising events and requesting donations from the community is worth it.

She said students get really excited about the event.

“People are ready to leave prom to go to Prom Mania,” she said laughing.

In the first year, about 50 percent of students attended Prom Mania, but last year the event boasted an over 90 percent attendance rate.

“Students really appreciate the school doing it,” Duhon said. “It’s a really fun night and we’re so thankful for all of the parents putting it together for us.”

Duhon, who has attended Riverside since pre-kindergarten, is the daughter of George Jr. and Raelynne Duhon. Besides heading the Prom Mania club, she is Senior Beta president and a member of Rebels in Action and Mu Alpha Theta.

She is taking dual enrollment courses in math, psychology, biology and communication, and said the experience will allow her to earn 12 hours of college credit before she graduates from high school. Duhon’s future plans involve studying psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Anyone interested in donating to Prom Mania can call 504-559-7014.