They rocked and rolled but didn't trash the place. Southern California youth who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended the annual Mormon Prom on March 17th at Soka University in Aliso Viejo.
Young people ages 16-18 from Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, and Laguna Niguel congregations were invited to join the seventh annual event.
“It is all about having wholesome fun and a positive dating experience while being with a group of youth that share the same high standards,” said Marci Paul, the Young Women President for Foothill Ranch.
Jordan Procuniar of Portola Hills asked his mother, Anne, if she could help plan a dinner for him and his seminary class (a daily, early-morning high school religion class). He thought it would be good to be together before the dance and there wouldn’t be a large expense. Anne Procuniar, mother of six, asked other mothers for a little help and put on a grand-looking dinner for 36 at the Portola Hills Community Clubhouse while only charging $10 per couple.
“I made the entree—roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, honey glazed carrots and rolls—and asked for help from the other parents for a salad and dessert bar, set-up, serving, and cleanup," Procuniar said. "It was all worth the effort to watch the youth have a wonderful time together.”
Then it was on to the themed dance entitled “The Sweetest Night of Your Life” with tickets at just $10/couple. Professional pictures and refreshments, such as candy and floats, were included in the package.
However, not everyone had an easy time getting to the prom. Broken bones, volleyball matches and crutches were obstacles some participants had to overcome on their big night.
Kiley Bowen, a senior at Trabuco Hills High, plays for Saddleback Valley Volleyball Club. She had Junior National Qualifiers the same day as the dance. She played matches at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Because she had made a commitment to her club team to be at all tournaments not on Sunday, she missed the group dinner and photos; still, she did her makeup and hair in the car en route from Anaheim and arrived at the dance at 10:12 p.m. Her original date ended up in the hospital with a health problem, so she met her last-minute replacement—Ryan Knecht from Mission Viejo—at the dance.
Kiley said, “It was a little crazy to get there, but I knew it was my last Mormon Prom and I didn’t want to miss it.”
San Clemente resident Barbara Bell said her daughter Lauren Bell’s date, David Sorensen from Laguna Niguel, broke his hip in a ski accident before the prom but that didn’t stop him from going. He arrived on crutches.
The elder Bell was involved with California's first Mormon Prom seven years ago.
“The school dances were so expensive and not always such a good environment," Barbara Bell said. "We do this dance at a nice venue where they have high standards in dress, dance and music. We invite all youth as long as they are willing to abide by the standards. That first year, we had a big spread in the Orange County Register and we got calls from many parents that weren’t Mormon but wanted their youth to participate. We learned that parents appreciate knowing their children are having a good time in a safe environment with high standards.”
Madelyn Paul, a senior at El Toro High, felt the same way as those parents did seven years ago.
“I love how the dance has such a positive atmosphere where everyone is happy and having a good time," Paul said. "It is nice knowing that you are surrounded by others who share the same values and standards.”