Remembering Why It Began
We are often reminded to stop and “smell the roses.” Surprisingly, we sometimes need to be reminded of those things that are not so rosy.
For example, Prom Plus.
I became involved with Crescenta Valley High School Prom Plus back in 1999 when my son Patrick was a senior. While at Back to School Night, one of the founding members, Marian Mirsky, asked me if I would like to help with the organization. I had never heard of it. She explained that Prom Plus was born of a tragedy. One of CV’s seniors, a promising basketball scholarship recipient by the name of Berlyn Cosman, was shot and killed in 1991 as she slept at a post-prom unsupervised hotel party.
The news struck me hard. Being a mother with four boys of my own, I could only imagine the horror that her death caused – not only for her family, but the community. Over the years, I have learned a lot about that night, how Berlyn was not one to party hard with a devil-may-care attitude. Allowing her to attend the after- prom party was no doubt a difficult decision for her parents; but, after all, their daughter was a “good girl” and would keep out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble found her – even as she slept.
The boy found guilty of her murder was also a local young man. His arrest and trial caused division in our foothills community. Berlyn’s sister Morgan said that crank phone calls were received at the Cosman home – some from callers saying they were Berlyn. Not only did the Cosman family have to cope with the unbelievable loss, they had to deal with “creeps.” Ultimately, the family fell apart.
But from this tragedy Prom Plus was formed. Our civic leaders, school administration and parents came together to create somewhere fun for our teens to go after prom. Now in its 20th year, Prom Plus hosts around 400 CVHS seniors and their guests after prom each year. The kids come for the mechanical bull, the rock-climbing wall, the casino. But for the parents, it’s somewhere safe for their kids to go.
There is no way to measure how many kids were “saved” by Prom Plus and we will most likely never get all prom attendees to head to the Y after prom (there’s usually more than 650 prom tickets sold). We’ll have to be satisfied that we offer someplace safe – and fun – for CVHS seniors to go after the dance. Whether they choose to take advantage of this $25,000 party is up to them.
As publisher of this paper (and president of Prom Plus), I never want to have to print a headline that a senior was killed because they didn’t have anywhere to go after prom. With the community’s ongoing support of Prom Plus, I won’t have to.