Ombudsman Chicago’s Students Arrive in Style for School’s Second Prom

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Students Are Happy Semi-Formal Affair for Senior  Class Continues

Keith Duerrero, a senior who attends Ombudsman Chicago Northwest’s campus at 7500 N. Harlem Ave., was surprised to be called from the white linen-covered table where he sat with classmates, to the front of the room in the fancy banquet hall. There, Ombudsman officials named him the school’s prom king. Michelle Cisneros was named the school’s queen.

“I was actually pretty surprised,” said Keith, 21, proudly wearing the blue and gold crown that was placed on his head and the gold sash school officials draped over his black suit. “I just started at Ombudsman, and this is my first time attending a prom. I’m excited. I think every senior should have this experience.”

Minutes after getting her gold sash and silver and gold crown from school officials, Keyionte Brown, 18, from Ombudsman’s South campus, said she is “happy” and “excited” to be named prom queen for the campus located at 6057 S. Western Ave.

“I barely talk in school, and I thought I was not going to get any votes,” said Keyionte, dressed in a long flowing red dress as she stood next the school’s prom king.

For the suave Michael Pipes, the announcement of being named prom king for the south campus came as no surprise. “To be honest, I am recognized throughout the school as well, and I see no big difference other than more people get to see me,” said Michael, dressed in a gold suit and matching slippers.

Keith, Keyionte and Michael were three of about 110 students, teachers and staff who secured tickets for Ombudsman Chicago’s second annual prom at the Martinique Banquet Hall in southwest suburban Burbank, on Friday, June 7.

Ombudsman Chicago offers students who have dropped out of CPS or who need a fresh start to get back on track, another option to earn a high school diploma. Since opening as a member of the Chicago Options School Programs in 2013, more than 5,000 students have attended the three Ombudsman Chicago campuses. To learn more, visit www.chicagodiploma.com.

Last year, Ombudsman hosted its first prom after students launched a campaign to bring this high school tradition of a semi-formal dance to its three options schools. The 2018 gala was such a success that administrators started planning for this year’s affair.

But the 2019 prom almost didn’t happen. For Ombudsman, like a number of high schools across the nation, ticket sales for the prom have been down in recent years. Both students and school officials believe the initial slow response was due to students simply not having the finances to pay for the dinner gala and for the lavish outfits to wear to the event. But this senior ritual continued thanks to a last-minute push by students, some creative promotions and giveaways by school officials – like free tickets for good attendance – and a donation from an angel investor.

“It was hard for a little bit for us to have this prom, but we made it happen,” said Quentasia Addison, the prom queen for the West campus, located at 2401 W. Congress Parkway. She secured her tickets just days before the event. “I am just excited that I was able to attend.”

When asked if the prom should continue for the class of 2020, all students who were interviewed said yes.

“It should continue so every student can have this experience like they have at other high schools,” said Quentasia, looking royal in her gold and burgundy gown as she stood next to the prom king, DeAngelo Watson, 18, dressed in black and burgundy. “Every female and every male wants to be a prom queen and king.”

Keith said he would have been disappointed if the prom had been cancelled.

“We worked hard for this,” he said, noting that some students earned tickets for the lavish affair in recognition of good attendance and good grades.

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