Fort Cherry Junior/Senior High School

Fort Cherry seniors will get their 2020 prom after all, after the community raised more than $7,000.

Some of the district’s seniors were nervous after NOAH’s Event Venue in Southpointe, closed suddenly earlier this week. Fort Cherry had made a $3,420 deposit on the venue for a May 15 prom, only three months away.

“We called them last Thursday to get our balance,” said Victoria Smith, a Fort Cherry Spanish teacher who coordinates the prom. “That was the last time we heard from them. We have been trying to pick up the pieces since then.”

The Utah-based company filed for bankruptcy last year, but was shut down by a Utah judge last week, according to Utah news reports. It closed its other 27 event venues across the nation, including one in Cranberry.

Haley Felton and Katie Nemec, Fort Cherry seniors who are on the prom committee, couldn’t believe what was happening.

“I didn’t think we were going to have a prom at all,” Felton said. “We were hoping we could get a refund, but we haven’t heard a word from anybody. It was really upsetting. We just had a big fundraiser before that to try to finish paying it off.”

Not only did they no longer have a venue, Nemec said, but they had no money for a down payment on a new one and only three months to figure something out. But Brenda Sturgeon, a parent and community member, started a GoFundMe page Tuesday to help out.

“The students have worked very hard since the beginning of the school year to raise money for the prom,” Sturgeon wrote on the page. “They are doing their best to make light of the situation, reorganizing fundraisers and brainstorming different ways to make this prom a memorable night for the underclassmen, as well as the seniors, who are counting down the days to make memories.”

In three days, the page raised almost $7,500.

“At first, I didn’t think we’d get much more than a couple hundred,” Nemec said. “I was dumbfounded that we received this much money, and I was just extremely thankful.”

Smith also expressed thanks to the Fort Cherry community for jumping in so quickly to help out.

“It’s not even about the money either – it’s just really cool to see that much support so fast,” she said. “The community has done far more than we could ever expect.”

Felton said alumni from out of state, or who graduated 20 years ago, reached out to donate so the 2020 seniors can still have a prom.

“It was a really good feeling to see how much support the community had for us, and to see people wanting us to have a memorable night,” she said.

Nemec said they have a few venue options, but have not yet chosen one.

Smith and Felton said they had people reaching out with discounts on venues, catering and music.

“Now we have to choose a new venue with what we have,” Smith said. “We’ve had a few people offer discounts to us. It’s pretty cool to have the option now. We’ve been really blessed.”

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