NPHS Prom evolves through generations

Fifty-five years ago, Newbury Park High School was created. Founded in 1967, NPHS has gone through major developments since that time. Seven generations of students have attended the campus we walk through almost every day. Prom, being a highlight of the high school experience for many, has served as an evolving event that has changed greatly in the past 55 years. Take a trip through NPHS dance history to compare and contrast past proms with present, and how your high school experience compares to that of your teachers and alumni.



In the year of 1978, NPHS hosted both a prom and a Senior Ball. Like present day, the Prom was open to upperclassmen whereas the ball consisted exclusively of seniors and their guests. However, the year 1978 specifically stood out because of the unique location.

The Senior Ball was held at the PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles. This was the exact location where Robert Kennedy was assassinated just ten years earlier. The location was especially intriguing to Steve Johnson, former student at NPHS who attended the 1978 dance and is now a history teacher.

“It was obviously a tragedy, but it was fascinating for me to see that place where this thing had happened,” Johnson said. “Me being the history nerd, I wanted to see where it happened. I don’t think my date appreciated the fact that seemed to be my focus… it reflected my immaturity on one side but also my interest in something on the other side. I think that’s a pretty good reflection of who I was at that one time.”

However, NPHS stopped hosting the Senior Ball, most likely due to high costs and the dance’s similarity with Prom. “I think that maybe traditional dances where you went with dates, I think that kind of went out of style… as time went on and kids changed about how they wanted to enjoy their high school activities,” Johnson said.

When looking back, Johnson stated that the biggest change from his prom to the present day was the fashion. “I think there is less in terms of formal, and more individual style has crept into what students wear,” Johnson said. “If you were looking back in the seventies, every guy would have one of maybe three designs of tux. Whereas now both the guys and the girls are doing great things and expressing themselves, and that’s great to see.”

Johnson estimates that he has chaperoned for 25 proms since teaching at NPHS. He encourages students to attend prom because it is an important experience. “It’s great to see everybody getting dressed up and having a great time, and it’s one of those special times when you’re with some of your friends for one of the last times,” he said.



Twenty years later, another NPHS alumni and teacher attended his own prom. Joseph Calaba, history and philosophy teacher at NPHS, remembers his prom fondly especially because of the unique setting. Every year, ASG finds a new and exciting place to hold the prom, and Calaba’s graduating year was not different. The prom of 1998 had a theatrical twist.

“It was unlike any other prom that we had up until that point,” Calaba said. “I got super lucky because we had a student that went here whose father was one of the vice presidents of Paramount. So through that connection, we were able to rent the backdrop of Paramount for our prom, which was called New York Street. So if you’ve ever seen the second Austin Powers movie, it’s supposed to be in London, and it was actually there that our prom was.”

When looking back on his prom in comparison with the proms at NPHS today, Calaba notices that the major differences are due to an increased use in technology among students. “Mobile phones existed but almost nobody had them. So at the time, they gave us disposable cameras which was cool because everyone was taking pictures around the prom,” Calaba said.

Because of this technology, Calaba believes that it is easier for students to make plans and connect with each other. This ability for immediate contact affects prom plans today and general communication among teens and their high school activities. “The connectivity of students today is nothing like the connectivity of students twenty years ago. Students can instantaneously reach out to each other, and record, take pictures, things like that. There’s a lot of creative freedom to make plans and those sorts of things. I actually really like it,” Calaba said.

Although Calaba has not chaperoned any proms since attending his own, he enjoyed his experience and attended this year’s prom as well. “The environment itself was really cool. Super fun, I had a great time,” Calaba said.



After school events being mostly on hiatus for two years, the NPHS prom committee was ready to bring students a dance like no other. Located at the Odyssey in Granada Hills, over 800 students attended the 2022 prom, which was filled with dancing, snacks, and even poker for all to enjoy. Desmond Perez, junior, has been helping plan prom since the beginning of the school year with 3 other students on the junior class board . “I think the main reason that I wanted to coordinate proms and dances is because I just wanted to get involved… I know that I had a lot of ideas for how they could be worked, and how they could be added to and like what greater things you could make prom into,” Perez said.

The Odyssey sits atop the Granada Hills and overlooks the entirety of the San Fernando Valley, so students like Carter Kawaguchi, senior, were able to catch a gorgeous glimpse of the sunset. “A couple years ago it was voted best view in LA County. I think it lived up to the expectations of that. it was a really pretty view. I know people were dancing and stuff, I was just sitting there looking out the window for a minute,” Kawaguchi said.

Of course, many classic traditions were seen at prom, including several unique promposals made by students for their dates. Sunshine Roth, senior, was happily surprised when her boyfriend, Austen Smith, senior, proposed to her during a hike in the Botanical Gardens in Thousand Oaks. “He pulled out this sign that said, ‘Will you be my sunshine at prom?’ Is what it said on like a bright orange poster paper… he pulled it out and I was like, Oh my gosh,” Roth said.

Unlike the typical Prom King and Queen nomination, the 2022 prom committee had students nominate eight students to be in the Prom Court and two would be selected to be Prom Royalty. “This might be a little bit of an adjustment for some people. But we think that it’s really important that we make it more inclusive than it was in past years with, you know, the traditional kind of values that prom should have,” Perez said.

However, for the first time in Newbury Park history, there was a three-way tie for the Prom Royalty, and Sunshine Roth, Carter Kawaguchi and Micheal Flaherty all won. “It was really funny because I’ve known Michael since we were like four and Sunny since like sixth grade. So I was excited. All three of us got it, we were just laughing it off,” Kawaguchi said.

Although there were some minor criticisms of the prom event this year surrounding the food and music, most students said the experience was worth going to, and they had an enjoyable time. “I think like all of us were kind of longing for those sort of senior experiences or just like high school experiences in general for all the class of 2022 because we missed out on over two years, pretty much, of our experience in high school. So I think that the prom was a really fun event,” Kawaguchi said.