Treasure the Night
Key West Conchs Prep for Prom and Post-Graduation
By Suzanne Egle
For high school seniors, graduation is the culmination of four years of hard work and signifies the crossing the threshold to adulthood. For many of them, the Senior Prom is their last chance to party one more time with friends and celebrate their achievement in style before heading off to new adventures. This year’s prom at Key West High School is entitled “Treasure the Night”, and as the Key West Weekly’s Suzanne Egle tells us, that’s exactly what students plan to do.

“We want to make sure that the night is special for everyone, since this will be our last big event together!”

To say Jacqueline Caballero, a member of the Executive Board for the Senior Class, is psyched about prom is an understatement. This cheerleader has her dress and a date.

“It’s to go with the Arabian Night theme,” she tells The Weekly. “The dress is maroon with orange beading.”

She purchased it online and tells us many girls made the trek to the mainland to shop to score their one-of-a-kind garment.

As for her prom date, that’s baseball layer Jon Doughtry. The two plan to pick out his tuxedo, boutonniere, and her corsage together.

Jordan Roberts, Treasurer for the Executive Board, isn’t skimping on the details either. She plans to wear a long white and pink paisley design dress that she too bought online. For prom night she and her date Mikey Abreu along with a group of her friends all pitched in to get a condo at the Parrot Key Resort where they’ll all eat together.

“A lot of seniors want to make it the best. It’s a bittersweet thing; it’s my prom this year, and it’s also sad because I can never go to one ever again,” says Jordan.

Key West High School basketball player, Robert Hughley and his date Natalie Castaldo will indulge in our coastal paradise with friends, taking pictures at Smathers Beach before enjoying an entertaining dinner at Benihana’s!

For Casey Kitchen prom has always been a lot of fun since she attended Junior Prom at KWHS with her senior friends during her junior year.

“I experienced it vicariously through old friends, but this year I am really amped up to experience it myself.”

She is thrilled to be getting her dress from the wonderful program called Kids Come First which donated beautiful, new or gently used prom dresses to the high school for students in need.

Another prom partygoer, Michael Commander has plans for the big night too with his date Bede Bunting.

“We probably will hand out and have a good time. It’s the last time to get together with the senior class and hang out with friends.”

Here are the details for the 2010 event.

The prom will be held Monday, May 31 at the Navy B.O.Q. Reception Hall. With help from Kate Bentley of “Happily Ever After”, the reception hall will be magically transformed into an Arabian Night theme with drapery of deep, rich colors and fabrics, and pillows scattered about for seating. The dance floor will be defined by mats and each room will be infused with light using different colors of bulbs to set the mood in each space. Caballero and her team will spend the better part of prom day putting the final touches on the venue before going home to get ready for the big night.

Since it is being held at the Navy Base, and the students are not allowed to drive their cars on base, the Old Town Trolley will be shuttling them from the high school to the prom.

“This will be safer and easier”, Caballero points out, perhaps calming the nerves of nervous parents.

As for the after-prom, parties… some will go to a house to hang out, head to the pre-prom party, or feast on a potluck dinner. The key is they’ll all be together, relishing in their last few moments of being part of KWHS.

They’ll also be focusing on the future, and have already outlined ambitious goals.

Hughley is heading to FKCC on a full academic scholarship where he’ll study to become an English teacher. Joining him on campus is Kitchen, a talented drama student who has her sights set on transferring to Julliard or NYU.

Commander, president of the Beta Club and member of the Philosophy Club and National Honor Society will go to Gator country and concentrate in zoology!

“I’m excited. I see it as progressing in life,” the young man says. “I’m excited to meet new people.”

Excited, but anxious about leaving Key West, their paradise home behind.

“I’m excited to go experience ‘the real world,’” says Roberts who’s going to Sante Fe next year. “I’m also sad to leave my small Key West environment where I know everyone on the street.”

So, for many of these students, leaving high school is a bittersweet yet exciting time in their young lives. Prom night is a very special way for them to bid farewell to their home of 4 years and enjoy a night they will always treasure in their memories.

“We’re all excited about finally being on our own” Caballero relays, “but we will all kind of miss it.”


Back Row (L to R): Franchon Bennet, Sahara Acosta-Perez, Arlen Fernandez, Alex Velazquez, Nick Moreno, Joseph Gandolfo Middle Row (L to R): Kali Struble, Emily Young, Jordan Roberts, Lindsey Vinson, EJ Diaz, Jenny Carbaugh Sitting (L to R): Madison Disson, Jacqueline Caballero, Jordan Lydamore, Jenna Balzarano, Devynn Kraus




Jacqueline Caballero (right) & Jordan Roberts are counting down their days at KWH and sadly with their best friends. One thing’s for sure, they’ll “Treasure the Night,” for prom 2010.



Dress Students for Prom
Your Contribution Counts
Through “Kids Come First,” First State Bank and other local businesses supported a drive to dress students for prom. In addition to dresses that were donated, tuxedo rentals, up-dos, manicures and even accessories were contributed so students who couldn’t afford them could have the privilege of attending their prom in style.

Kids Come First is a part of Monroe Youth Challenge Program to help provide basic essentials to kids who would go without. Kids Come First Coordinator Roxane Posada rounded up donations from the Middle and Lower Keys.

“This is exciting to see students enjoy a luxury that maybe other students take for granted. Some businesses gave multiple certificates for face make-ups and hair styling. The students who get them are going to be so excited,” she said.

Monroe Youth Challenge Program is a project of the Monroe County Education Foundation to build Developmental Assets® and create opportunities so every child in Monroe County can feel safe, loved, and celebrated.

For more information call MYCP Director Sunny Booker at 305 293-1400 ext. 53319 or visit



Prom dress donation
Key West High School Assistant Principal Christina McPherson shows one of the dresses and a few certificates donated for disadvantaged students to attend the Memorial Day Weekend prom.



Prom In Paradise
Economics and Trends for “Treasure the Night”
Story and photos by Rebecca Anderson
The business of high school prom is a hot issue for Key West shop owners. For an evening that USA Today and MSN Money reports can cost families and teens on the upwards of $1,000, many Keys teens and their families are taking their prom business to the mainland. Local business owners speculate that perceived lack of variety and high prices at Key West specialty boutiques contribute to the seasonal shopping migration to Miami.

“Many young women in the Keys choose to buy their prom dresses in Miami because they want something unique,” explains Ive Montalvo of the Red Chandelier Boutique located in Duval Square. “In a small town like Key West, no one wants to dress like anyone else,” she explains.

She cites high cost as one of the reasons why local families frequently choose to shop in Miami instead of patronizing local boutiques.

Because of local teens’ need to find unique pieces, The Red Chandelier doesn’t carry a specialized stock of prom apparel. Montalvo explains that it simply isn’t financially viable for her store to carry prom dresses since it is difficult for her to sell more than one of each design.

David Symons of the boutique Blue on Caroline Street has a similar reaction to The Red Chandelier when it comes to prom dresses. Blue, which carries over 150 clothing lines by top designers, gets little prom business because of families’ financial constraints.

“Designer items are just too expensive for many teenage girls,” he states.

Business managers and families alike agree, the most popular local spots for prom dress shopping in Key West are Ross and Sears, both of which offer affordable choices for families on a budget.

But when you’re talking about the accessories and all of the “bling”, one business does profit from prom. Located on Duval is Claire’s Boutique. Store managers say, “almost all the girls” from Key West High visit their store to purchase jewelry and accessories for prom night. Likewise, local hair salons, tuxedo shops and florists also pick up some business from the prom, but few consider it a significant source of revenue, and thus do little to market themselves to teenagers and their families. Mama Flowers on Caroline Street, for example, explains that they do make corsages and boutonnieres, but do not target their business toward prom goers.

2010 Prom Trends
Although many teenage girls and their families are on a tight budget, runway designers set bar for prom trends.

Blue’s Symons said that designer Nicole Miller’s short party dresses are particularly popular this season. He called Miller’s designs “the quintessential evening dresses”. Many of Nicole Miller’s designs come in stretch linen or cotton with ruched gathers on the side. Symons described these designs as “forgiving on the body” and “perfect for women of all sizes and ages”, in addition to being stylish for both prom and other formal events.

For prom goers who cannot afford Nicole Miller’s original designs, similar styles are available in Key West at Express on Duval Street and Rainbow, which is located in the Searstown Shopping Center.

Men’s styles for prom are classic and vary little from year to year, according to locals. Dark tuxedos are standard, but young men can dress them up with ties and accessories that coordinate with their date’s outfit. Local tuxedo rental shops, including Timmy Tuxedos on Fleming Street, also offer colorful vets and coordinating dress shoes to complete the look.

Bold, oversized accent pieces, like chokers are popular accessories for women this prom season. These pieces are trendy but classic, says Symons. For prom-goers who can’t fit a trendy necklace into their budget, Symons suggests making a statement with large, dangly earrings. Symons also emphasized that something as simple as “killer heels and a nice purse” can make a prom night ensemble stand out, but do not have to be costly.

Back at Claire’s Boutique, the staff states that rhinestone necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are consistently their biggest selling accessories for prom. The store also carries many lower-priced versions of the bold chokers and accent pieces that Symons described as being on trend for spring 2010.

When it comes to flowers for corsages and boutonnieres for prom, seasonal flowers are a top choice. Hyacinths, tulips, hydrangea and calla lilies are all in season and readily available around prom time, says the staff of Mama Flowers.

Representatives from the Key West Chamber of Commerce will be the first to tell you how important it is to “shop locally,” during prom season, or any time of the year.

Symons and Montalvo both agree, keeping our cash in the Keys to supporting the local retail community is important regardless of your budget.

Symons emphasizes his boutique offers many of the unique dress and jewelry designs found in Miami, including pieces by famous names such as Diane Von Furstenburg, and lesser-known designers such Rozae Nichols, whom Symons describes as creating “very one-of-a-kind artistic pieces” in a variety of fabrics that discerning prom-goers will appreciate.



Gold “statement necklace” paired with a Nicole Miller Gown, both of which are on trend for prom 2010. This necklace was handcrafted in Key West by David Symons of Blue. Forget Miami! Both the dress and necklace are available in-store!

Stretch fabric and side ruching make this style of prom dress flattering for nearly all body types. Dress by Nicole Miller. 



Part of the selection of rhinestone jewelry offered by Claire’s Boutique on Duval Street. Claire’s remains a local favorite for prom night accessories.





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