You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, May 4, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Willow Run opens up prom to underclassmen for final 'hurrah' as cohesive school entity

By Danielle Arndt


Willow Run high school sophomores Jonathan Cole, left, and Erica Jo Post hold up a masquerade mask Thursday at the school. The mask is one of many props Willow Run will have for prom this year. Sophomores are being allowed to go to the dance because it is the district's last prom before the merger.

Danielle Arndt |

Although the theme of this year's Willow Run High School prom is "masquerade ball" and students will wear Mardi Gras-styled masks, the students in attendance will be anything but trying to hide their identities as Willow Run Flyers.

Camaraderie, cohesiveness and school pride are the objectives for this final Willow Run prom.

Saturday's dance will be the last for the high school before merging in July with Ypsilanti Public Schools to become Ypsilanti Community Schools. And WRHS is going above and beyond to make sure the celebration is one to remember and that all students are able to take part.


Students and co-sponsors of the senior class prom Blake Nordman, second from right, and Belinda Styron, back, unpack several props for prom at Willow Run High School on Thursday afternoon.

Danielle Arndt |

Because the name of the new district incorporates Ypsilanti, many high-schoolers feel like the merger is the death of Willow Run, said humanities teacher and senior class co-sponsor Belinda Styron. She said because of this, the 2013 prom committee, which is comprised of all seniors, wanted to open up the dance to underclassmen. Sophomores are being allowed to attend the dance and some freshmen have been invited to act as party hosts.

"It's really cool... You know, usually they don't want the younger kids around. This is their special night. But this was their idea and everything," Styron said of their willingness to include the lower grades, adding prom typically is just for juniors and seniors.

Sophomore Erica Jo Post was ecstatic when she found out she could go to prom.

"I texted my mom right away and said I had to go," she recounted. "It's a unique opportunity and with the merger, I won't ever be able to go to prom as Willow Run. It's our last year as Flyers. I think everybody is pretty hyped (about prom) because of it."

Styron said the school is going all out for the kids this year. There will be more decorations, uplighting in the ballroom, a candy table, goodie bags, a photobooth and professional photographer. The professional photographer students would have to pay for, said senior class co-sponsor Blake Nordman, but the photobooth is free and will be available for four hours throughout the evening.


Photo album souvenir for students.

Danielle Arndt |

Students also will be given a small photo album with "Willow Run High School" and the date embossed on the front as a keepsake for students to store their photobooth photos and to later remember the night by.

Nordman also has contacted and invited back past Willow Run prom kings and queens to take part in the event. He received confirmation from a 2010 and a 2008 honoree. His plan is to have them help with the crowning of Willow Run's last prom king and queen.

Nordman said the staff wanted the students to feel extra special this year and to have a great event that helps them take their minds off the pending merger.

"It's been pretty depressing around here... In general, with the consolidation, our students feel pretty disconnected from the decisions that are being made... They see it as the end of Willow Run and the continuation of Ypsilanti (schools)," Nordman said.

The idea behind prom is to give everyone an opportunity to have fun in an environment where they know each other and are comfortable, Styron said, adding the idea of so many new students and a new school is intimidating to some of the more shy, quiet high-schoolers.

Willow Run's prom is from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Courtyard Marriott in Ann Arbor.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

What a bad idea. Masks for WR? OMG. This school has so many problems on so many levels and who was the brain child for this idea? I hope they unveil soon after it gets started. What I am thinking glad I won't be any where near this area.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Nice gesture. I hear it was a great night.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:45 a.m.

Kudo's to the upperclassmen at Willow Run HS who decided to include the rest of their school for prom this last year before consolidation. Nicely done ... with class & school spirit!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

What a lovely idea!