By Christine Sampson
Bridgehampton High School students have stood by for years and watched as their peers at neighboring East End high schools — and those across Long Island — enjoyed a rite of passage most of them didn’t get to enjoy themselves: going to a prom.
Sure, some of them over the years found themselves asked to an East Hampton or Pierson High School prom as a date. But Bridgehampton’s last formal high school prom took place before the current senior class had even been born.
That all changed on Thursday, June 1, when the Bridgehampton High School Student Council successfully threw the school’s first prom in two decades.
“It’s the best thing ever, honestly,” said Nia Dawson, a senior and student council member, who also happens to be the class salutatorian. “I can’t believe we pulled it off. Well, I can. We’re Bridgehampton. We do a lot of things that people don’t believe we can do. Everyone came together and really contributed.”
The last prom was held at the Salty Dog, at the end of Long Beach. Thursday’s party was at the Topping Rose House, just down the road from the school’s Montauk Highway address. The student council spent months planning the event themselves, according to John Reilly, a social studies teacher who has advised the student council for 18 of the last 20 years.
“They did everything,” Mr. Reilly said. “They met with the manager here, sold all the tickets, decided the menu, and promoted it. It didn’t take much promoting, actually. I think the kids were thirsty for it.”
“We’ve worked together to make it a real experience for everyone coming through, and I hope they continue this when we’re gone,” she said.
Bridgehampton resident Jane Iselin, an avid gardener, donated the flowers for the tables at the prom. She arranged the bouquets herself after getting the flowers from a North Fork farm. “I love the school and it was my pleasure to do the flowers for them,” Ms. Iselin said.
Attended by about 60 students in grades nine through 12 — including some from East Hampton High School, who were invited after taking part in Bridgehampton’s shared theater program — the prom was a hands-down hit from the moment the doors opened. As the students arrived, there were hugs and smiles all around as cameras flashed. Compliments and sparkling apple cider flowed freely. Though they seemed tentative at first, it wasn’t long before many of the kids were clustered on the dance floor, dancing their hearts out.
“It’s really fun,” senior Raymond Maldonado said. “I wasn’t expecting such a small group to have such a big vibe. Everyone’s having a great time.”
Freshman Destiny Hodge called it “the time of her life.”
“Everyone looks amazing. Most people are dancing,” she said. “The deejay is doing great. I’m having so much fun. I already took my shoes off, and we still have three more hours here.”
Junior Patricia Figueroa said she was enjoying the chance to meet a lot of new people and called the prom “super fun.” Senior Rachel Hoyt, a member of the student council who had been to other schools’ proms before, called it “beautiful.”
“It’s different to have our own Bridgehampton hive,” Rachel said. “Hopefully it will continue.”