As Kristina Giacchetto pulled into her driveway, she automatically assumed something was wrong when she smelled something burning in her house. “I started running for the garage, thinking that something had caught on fire,” she said, laughing to herself. However, Giacchetto soon realized that the burning smell was coming from the 150 lit candles in her garage that her boyfriend, Chris Damiani, had set up to spell out the word PROM.

“It was actually pretty funny,” Giacchetto said, “because I had just come back from going out with my friends for my birthday and my mom said she needed me to get something for my brother before I came home, which I later found out was just a way to keep me out of the house, but I realized I forgot to get it just as I pulled into my street. I saw [Chris’s] car, and then pulled back out without even realizing what was going on. My friends who took me out were also in on the scheme, but I never suspected a thing the whole night.”

Then there is Maureen Tyner, a junior at AHS, who had just come home from a ski weekend in New Hampshire when she noticed the college envelope sitting on her counter. However, instead of a neatly typed letter, she found the first clue to the beginning of a scavenger hunt. After journeying throughout her house and collecting the letters P-R-O-M, she found her boyfriend, Alex Brickman, standing on the porch with flowers.  “It was pretty creative,” Tyner said, “the clues rhymed and everything, and it was such a nice thought.” She and Brickman have been dating for about nine months now.

Although romantic “promposals,” as they are now called, are one sign of the excitement that prom brings, there are some people who feel that prom can bring another aspect of stress to an already busy schedule of a junior. Between studying for SATs, trying to maintain an acceptable GPA, and participating in extracurricular activities, juniors also have the added struggle of finding a date to prom.

This year, prom is going to be held on May 3, 2014, at the Double Tree hotel in Danvers. Although there are rumors that this year is a ‘junior only’ prom, Ms. Chachus, Junior Board of Directors leader, has confirmed that it will be a junior and senior event.

“I was actually pretty nervous about finding a date to prom,” said junior Chris Tully. “Most guys act pretty cool about it but I think everyone is afraid they’ll get turned down. But finding a date was the only real stress I had because the girls usually make the plans. Now that I have a date I just have to buy a tux that matches [her] dress.”

Jess Leone, who will be attending with Tully, brings a different perspective to the prom mindset. “I wasn’t nervous about finding a date to prom,” said Leone, “and I wasn’t expecting Chris to ask me since I just met him, but now that he has, I am really looking forward to prom. It’s going to be a fun night for everyone.”

Another well-known aspect that inhibits many people from going to prom is the cost. Especially for the girls, prom can end up being a very expensive ordeal because of the cost of a dress, shoes, limo, and tickets. Ms. Kirby, a social worker at the high school, feels that living in such an affluent town like Andover, where so many people do have the ability to pay the expenses, makes it even harder for the kids who can’t pay.

Ms. Kirby also thinks that “in general, prom is a very positive [experience,] however it can bring anxiety for kids who are more socially isolated. It can be a hard decision for those kids because they want to attend, but they don’t know if they will have people to hang out with or talk to.”

Stress about prom comes in different forms, and Mikayla Panneton, a senior at the high school, didn’t believe in any of the rumors until she was going through it. “[I remember] how crazy it was trying to figure out where to take pictures beforehand because you want to see everybody but it just isn’t possible. However, in the end, and after all the stress, [everything came together]. By the end of prom, everyone was dancing and having a blast, and it was bittersweet to see the junior and senior classes coming together as the year [came] to an end.”

Panneton’s best advice to the juniors is to “try and enjoy the experience and not let prom get to you. Prom should be about feeling beautiful and just having a good time with your friends.”

By Jenna Kosinski