Casino Prom wins big

Amelia Leach, Campus Life Reporter

With the hard work of the Whitman Events Board (WEB) and the enthusiasm of the student body, Casino Prom, the extravagant culmination of spirit week, hit the jackpot. 

Sophomore Shantényka Thompson, one of WEB’s Music Entertainment Co-Directors and the main organizer of Casino Prom, made many of the event decisions, including lighting, music, decorations, the delicious Indian food and most importantly the theme: Galaxy and Casino. 

“We wanted to have a prom for students to be able to de-stress before finals, and April 22 is kind of that sweet spot before finals begin. The reason for having casino games is so that students who don’t want to dance can have the opportunity to engage in some kind of hands-on activity happening at the same time,” Thompson said. “This event is providing a fun time, especially for the seniors, [at] one last big WEB event where they can socialize with each other. Based on our attendance rates, Casino Prom is our biggest event – it gives people we don’t really see that often an excuse to celebrate.”

Associate Director of the Student Activities NiQo Bullock was a blackjack dealer at the Casino Prom. He felt that this Casino Prom afforded students who missed their high school prom during the pandemic the opportunity to get that experience: to take their pictures, make their memories, connect with members of the student body and bring all the efforts of spirit week to a grand finale.

“It gives students the opportunity to come together dressed in their best attire and potentially play some casino games while being able to dance the night away,” Bullock said.

“These events provide the community with belongingness and togetherness. People don’t understand how much of a toll the pandemic took on people; all of the isolation made so many people feel anxious whenever it came to building new connections with others. We may not be where we once were, but this is our time to establish our new norm [and] a new standard to follow. You never know who’s watching; it might be a student that comes all the way from across the world that is really struggling to make a genuine connection, but when they see a prom, they might attend and see other people having the time of their lives and feel a sense of warm welcomeness that makes them want to get involved.”

Illustration by M Hu.

The sentiment of an event like Casino Prom, providing opportunities for students to make connections that strengthen communities, is what makes all of the time and money that goes into planning something this grand worth it. Hosting a prom, in particular, was of interest to a lot of students who never got a prom. One of these students was sophomore Rhys Sorenson-Graff.

“I’m so happy to be here. COVID-19 ruined my prom experience, so this is a really good way to relive that and get a second chance as my college self because I can do certain things now I couldn’t do in high school,” Sorenson-Graff said.

Getting to attend prom, typically a high school event, is a unique rite-of-passage. Sophomore Tayva Anderson, who helped plan Casino Prom, had a high school prom but was grateful for the chance at another one.

“I did have a prom in high school, but it was during COVID-19, so it was small and not really eventful. I’d say that this prom is definitely better food-wise, also the music selection is better. I’m having more fun dancing here than in high school,” Anderson said.

Anderson was thrilled with the night’s outcome. WEB and the students who attended had a blast at Casino Prom, and they agree that this year’s prom was a great success.