Chateau Briand holds free prom for LBHS seniors

Catering facility donated event to students reeling from Sandy


“Once students heard that the prom wouldn’t cost anything, more people were willing to come,” said Elyse Stark, a graduating senior and member of the Long Beach High School prom committee.

Though Long Beach schools reopened just two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, the storm threatened to disrupt this year’s senior prom, which was ultimately held on June 20 at Chateau Briand in Carle Place.

For the past seven years, Long Beach High School has held its senior prom at Chateau Briand, but the event was nearly scrapped after Sandy as students and their families, including many who were displaced and dealing with damaged homes, contended with the aftermath of the storm.

Earlier this year, the LBHS prom committee polled seniors about their plans to attend the prom, and the results indicated that attendance would be lower than usual due to the financial effects the storm caused.

After receiving the survey results, teacher and prom advisor Adriane Glassberg called Joe Mandaro, the executive director of corporate and special events at Chateau Briand, located at 440 Old Country Rd., to tell him that due to hardships caused by the storm, the school might not be able to make the guaranteed minimum number of attendees as specified in their contract.

Mandaro then met with owners Victor and Anthony Scotto, general manager Victor Scotto Jr. and controller Joe DiRico. They discussed the special situation the school was facing, their loyalty as clients, the ongoing stories of the cleanup and rebuilding of the area, and the overall financial and psychological hardships being endured by the people of Long Beach.

As a family-owned and run business, the Scotto Brothers wanted to ensure a memorable evening for every student in the senior class and decided to donate the prom, which was held on June 20, in what many described as a true “Cinderella” tale for this year’s graduating class.

“We are proud to play a role in helping the students of Long Beach High School celebrate this special milestone, and to give them happy prom memories, in spite of all the recent hardships they have faced,” Mandaro said.

In April, Chateau Briand’s Victoria Scotto took things a step further when she hosted a Prom Dress Party, where seniors had the opportunity to choose a new or donated prom dress and accessories like handbags, and costume jewelry supplied by Estelle’s Dressy Dresses, Vivo Hair Salon, Tuxedo Park, Kiersten’s Jewelry of Holbrook, Men’s Wearhouse, Frippery Boutique, Thomas Knoell and Body Rock DJ. Bridal Reflections donated 150 dresses, and the Manhattan-based Dessy Group provided 50 gowns. There were also raffles and giveaways such as limousine rides, hair and makeup services, shoes, gift cards and accessories.

“I knew we would make it work and pull through,” said senior Jillian Rosenblum, who was among those who picked up a free dress at the event.

A number of seniors gathered for pre-prom festivities at the Blackheath Road home of Bonnie Goetz, whose son, Russell, graduated on Sunday.

“They all have grown up together at East Elementary School and this is the last school event they will all have together,” said Goetz, whose family owns the Lido Kosher Deli, which catered the event.

Rosenblum’s stepmother, Angela, said, “I remember when they were little and now they are going to college. It’s exciting and it’s the start of the next stage of their lives.”

Roughly 180 seniors also attended the Morning Madness post-prom party at Dave and Busters in Westbury. For more than 20 years, the Long Beach High School PTSA Morning Madness Committee has worked with the school district to create a safe, substance-free evening for students and their dates.

The Morning Madness Committee, co-chaired by Randi Andosca, Linda Birnbaum, Betsy Glazer, Rhonda Healy, Linda Morgenstern and Ann Marie Scandole, worked throughout the year to raise enough funds to treat all graduating seniors and their dates to an early morning post-prom party, complete with food, games, entertainment and prizes.

Through a series of fundraising events, the PTSA has paid for every high school senior to attend Morning Madness, where a brand-new car and other prizes are given away each year. Even though Sandy cancelled two of the committee’s biggest fundraisers of the year, it managed to raise enough money to hold the event.

Every senior present was given the opportunity to spin to win a cash prize of $25 to $100. The luckiest of all the evening’s winners was Brenda Cespedes, who walked away with the keys to a new 2013 Toyota Corolla, while Kristan Ramnarine won a new laptop.