Prom Crashers: After weather postpones launch, rocket club lands in Alabama prom

After a long and successful day at the NASA rocket competition, the rocket club were left with nothing to do in their hotel rooms. Little did they know, the competition was not over with the 54 different student teams that participated. It continued with an Alabama high school prom, hosted in the convention center where many of these schools stayed, including the CFHS club.

“The prom [competition] started when we were walking around and I saw that there was prom at the center where we were staying,” junior Duncan Meyer said. “I said, ‘Guys, we have to try to go to this,’ so we snuck around the entire event center trying to find where prom was.”

Rocket club coach Zeb Nicholson thought this would be harmless fun.

Before any prom crashing could start, the members of the rocket team did extensive research in order to blend in as much as possible to the crowd of strangers.

“We had a really hard time preparing because we found their school website, and we figured out the principal’s name just in case we had to start name dropping,” senior Will Burken said.

The six students, dressed in their formal attire, walked around the event center until they heard music.

“We brought nice clothes for the rocket club awards banquet the next night,” Burken said, “so we had ties and shirts and stuff. Alabama people dress really fancy.”

Just by chance, six-member team snuck into the prom by slipping between the cracks of the pull-out wall, past the security guard and past all of the chaperones.

“The guard went to the bathroom or something right as we were standing there trying to figure out what to do,” Burken said. “All the doors were locked except for one. All the doors for the slide out wall were locked, so we thought ‘we’re screwed.’ We heard music playing from a crack down farther. One of the panals you could push out, so I pushed it a little bit and slid in really fast. I was standing there, and I turned around and everyone was in.”

The team snuck into the prom and sat at a table, acting as though nothing had just happened.

“There was a ton of people coming in, but only a few people in the tables around us. They stared at us for a bit and didn’t say anything, so we were in the prom,” Burken said.

During the prom, the team made some friends.

“Some girl came up and said, ‘You aren’t from here, but where are y’all from?’ We told her, ‘Iowa.’ She walked away, then brought a friend back and got all excited that we were from Iowa. They didn’t know why we were there, so we had to explain everything,” Burken said.

After accomplishing sneaking into prom, the next obstacle was to get out and not get caught.

“As we were walking by the chaperone parents with the tickets, we said, ‘Bye,’ and Randev turned around and said, ‘Thank you’ to someone’s mom. I just heard her go, ‘Wait, these aren’t our boys,’ and then, ‘Hey where are y’all from?’” Burken said. “We just started walking faster. She kept yelling at us and telling us to go back. She then proceeded to yell something like, ‘If I wasn’t so full of chocolate right now I would come get you,’” he said.

With two awards and crashing a prom, the rocket club was successful on many levels in the 2018 NASA Rocket competition.

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