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Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Music, mystery and memories

Students come together for 2024 Prom
Jessica Hu
Arnav Swaroop (12) dances with his friends on the patio floor. This year’s prom took place at the Winchester Mystery House, a national historic venue that is often booked for weddings and parties.

Colorful lights and artificial smoke swirl around the outdoor patio, as the crowd dances and sings along to booming music. Laughter and chatter fill the air as students spend the evening celebrating against the backdrop of the Winchester Mystery House. Donning dresses and suits, around 360 students gathered to dance, explore the venue and play casino games at the 2024 prom on April 20. 

Prom attendees mingled throughout the venue, a national historic site that is often booked for weddings and parties. Many took to the outdoor dance floor, where a DJ played songs suggested by students. 

The greenhouse adjacent to the dance floor housed a floral wall for photos and a mocktail bar. Attendees could also play Jenga, take photo booth pictures and have their caricatures drawn by a professional artist.

“Prom brought my friends and[I closer together through dancing and music, and we really created an everlasting memory,” attendee Brittany Tsui (12) said. “The caricature especially is a really nice memento that I’m planning to put up in my dorm when I go to college as a reminder of my best friends in high school.”

Shayla He (12) poses while having her portrait drawn. The caricature artist station was one of several activities available to attendees. (Claire Yu)

All visitors were given raffle tickets upon entering the venue and placed them in one of five prize boxes. Results of the raffles were announced on the dance floor at 10 p.m.: senior Kaitlyn Wang won a Disney package including gift cards and merchandise, senior Olivia Xu won a memories basket containing a Polaroid instant camera, junior Harrison Chen won a pair of Beats headphones and junior Rajas Apte won a guaranteed top-20 parking space for the 2024-25 school year.

Students engaged in mock gambling inside the Estate Carriage House, a vintage venue on the south side of the estate. Two blackjack tables and one roulette table were set up in the room, where participants played for raffle tickets. Other tables contained snacks and food like chocolate-covered strawberries, fruit and miniature wraps.

Naiya Daswani (11) and Rushil Jaiswal (11) participate in mock gambling. Students used fake paper money given to them at the entrance to participate in the game.  (Claire Yu)

“I really like getting to dress up and having fun with my friends,” attendee Cindy Yu (11) said. “Prom is an opportunity to do that. The mocktails are really cool; the whole place is really pretty.”

Attendees explored the historic fountains and sculptures in the preserved gardens. They also could take self-guided tours inside the house, where staff answered questions about its history.

“You can definitely see [the house] has a lot of history,” attendee Aishani Singh (11) said. “Especially within Silicon Valley, you don’t really see a lot of history. I think it’s really cool to see this preserved piece of history in time.”

The house was owned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the wealth of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. According to tour guide J, Winchester used her inheritance to expand the house from eight rooms to 161 throughout her ownership. J noted that the house’s supposed paranormal activity and design quirks, including a staircase that leads into the ceiling, make it a unique event venue.

Varun Thvar (11) places a Jenga piece into the tower. In addition to the dance floor, attendees also visited the photo booth, mocktail bar and the inside of the Winchester Mystery House. (Claire Yu)

Upper School Division Head Paul Barsky commended Director of Upper School Student Activities Coordinator Kerry Enzensperger and Assistant Upper School Student Activities Coordinator Eric Kallbrier for arranging the prom venue and commented on its historical significance to the event’s experience.

“We just wanted to add another element or layer of San Jose history to the prom, a different feel,” Barsky said. “Prom is a ritual of coming together in the upper classes and celebrating the end of the year, coming together as a community in a very formal and festive manner.”

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About the Contributors
Lily Shi
Lily Shi, Reporter
Lily Shi (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Lily hopes to get to know the members of the journalism team and write many meaningful articles. In her free time, she likes to dance, read, and spend time with her friends.
Jessica Hu
Jessica Hu, Reporter
Jessica Hu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Jessica aims to build confidence in both her writing and in her social skills. She hopes she'll be able to converse intelligently with those scary, scary journalism upperclassmen. In her free time, you'll find her perusing Wikipedia articles about linguistics, solving math problems and arguing about manga with her friends.
Claire Yu
Claire Yu, Reporter
Claire Yu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Claire hopes to take more photos and not fall behind on her deadlines. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to music, reading and playing basketball.

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