Old school favorites were played and couples took to the floor to dance the night away during the Last Chance Prom, a fundraiser for Konawaena High School’s football team, which has been invited to play a game at the Aloha Stadium this summer. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Photographer Kirk Shorte gives instructions to Kawika and Raisha Karratti before taking their “Prom Portrait” Saturday evening in the Konawaena High School gym.
Couples bust out the “Electric Slide” in the Konawaena High School gym Saturday evening during the Last Chance Prom, a fundraiser for Konawaena High School’s football team, which has been invited to play a game at Aloha Stadium this summer. (Photos by Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Photographer Kirk Shorte gives instructions to a group of prom attendees before taking their “Prom Portrait” Saturday evening in the Konawaena High School gym. The Last Chance Prom was a fundraiser for Konawaena High School’s football team, which has been invited to play a game at Aloha Stadium this summer. (Brad Ballesteros/Special to West Hawaii Today)
It was a chance for some residents to teleport themselves into a Molly Ringwald-esque movie.
They re-enlisted old prom, bridesmaid and cocktail dresses or power suits and tuxedos, perfectly coordinating with their dates. They posed for photos and shook it to their favorite old school song in Konawaena High School’s gym.
It was a chance for many to redo prom without the teenage angst or experience it for the first time with the one they love.
The Last Chance Prom, held Saturday evening, was a fundraiser for Konawaena’s 80-member football team. The Wildcats were invited to play at Aloha Stadium for the Father Bray Memorial Football Classic.
“We are very excited as a team, as a school, as a community, to participate in the Father Bray Memorial Football Classic, which is an honor,” said Head Coach Cliff Walters. “It’s a great opportunity to play a great team, one that has won six of the last seven Division II state titles, in a great venue.”
Konawaena, last year’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II champs, will compete at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11 against Iolani School. “It’s a dream come true” for the roughly 40 varsity football players to play in the arena that’s home to the University of Hawaii Warriors football team and the annual NFL Pro Bowl game. Some players have never left the island and this will be the first time they’ll see part of the state, Walters said.
The upcoming trip will cost about $6,000, he added.
Konawaena’s football team does year-round fundraising. The school allocates funding, typically $4,000, to the team, but that doesn’t cover all expenses, and football game proceeds are shared with the school’s other sports, Walters said.
“High school football, especially here at Konawaena, is a game that stirs passions and pride. It continues to bring communities together each weekend, packing the stands so that there’s standing room only,” he said. “But the reality is most other prep sports don’t make money like the way football does. Good football gates are put in the school’s general athletics fund and really help the other sports programs as much as it does football. Events like the one Saturday mean a great deal to the team.”
The proceeds and attendance hadn’t been tallied as of press time. However, Kuulei Saole, Konawaena track coach and one of the Last Chance Prom organizers, estimated Saturday’s event raised more than $3,500 for the football team.
For Austin Denis, a Konawaena running back and 17-year-old senior, the Last Chance Prom was another example of how “the community always backs us up and cares so much” about the team.
“We just want to make them proud and do good,” he said. “For a lot of us, playing at Aloha Stadium will bring us even closer together. Our team is unique because everybody really cares about each other, strives to work harder than the next person and plays with their heart on the field. This experience further motivates us for the season and, in some cases, fuels our dreams of someday playing football after high school.”
Saole said she, her sister and a friend came up with the idea to do the event during prom season. They knew the football team was looking for fundraisers and thought people would enjoy a trip down memory lane.
“We thought throwing a prom would give people the opportunity to really dress up, go someplace different and have a good time,” she said.
They were correct. As soon as the coconut wireless found out and football players began selling $25 tickets, the energy, excitement and interest built. Conversations occurred about what to wear, where to take photos beforehand and what to do after as a group. Several attendees offered their Christmas lights for decorations or other help.
Because of the success, organizers want to hold the event annually and possibly change the beneficiaries, rotating it between the school’s various sports programs, Saole said.
Konawaena athletic trainer Chelsea Qualey said she had never seen her husband dressed up until Saturday, when he wore a debonair black suit. When the Captain Cook couple got married four years ago, they did so in a beautiful, but low-key ceremony at Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.
Besides having a place to go “all dolled up,” Qualey called the Last Chance Prom “an amazing opportunity” to support the football team by giving them the off-season exposure they deserve and “the once-in-a-lifetime experience” of playing in such a well-known venue. She thinks the players will have a better understanding of what it’s like playing at the next level. She hopes when the Wildcats step on the field in August, they enjoy the game, win or lose, as well as remember the jitters, emotions and thoughts during this spirited time.
Kealakekua resident Aolani Mills said the Last Chance Prom was “an excellent idea” for a fundraiser for the football team, adding, “it did as much for the kids as it did for the adults.”
Mills estimated it had been at least 20 years since she attended a formal event, dressed to the nines. She said they felt like kids again, excitedly shopping together for their outfits and planning their night out with friends.
“I hope the football players understand and appreciate everything their parents and their community continue to do to support them. Some of us have been doing this since they were 5,” Mills said. “I hope they recognize the strength and values that come with family and other relationships. I hope when they see their parents and other adults, discussing prom so cute, they recognize the important events in their life and participate. If you don’t because you’re too cool, you may be wishing one day that you went. But there may not be a second chance.”
To donate to Konawaena’s football team, call Walters at 557-1277 or the school at 323-4500.