Ottumwa High School students danced at Saturday's prom to the theme "Out of this World." About 700 students attended. Courier photo by Pat Shaver

OTTUMWA — For Ottumwa High School juniors and seniors, Saturday night was “Out of this World.”

They packed into the OHS cafeteria, which was decorated with lights, stars, planets, and rocket ships, for the 2009 prom.

Victoria Swanstrom, a junior, was asked to prom by a friend while they were with friends on a roof looking at stars.

She said it was ironic since the theme of the dance was “Out of This World.”

“It sounds so romantic but it really wasn’t,” she said. “We’re just friends.”

For Swanstorm, prom is about “hanging out, dancing, taking pictures and making memories.”

Jessi Black, a sophomore, and her date Mark Estes, a junior, decided to go to prom about a week ago.

“I didn’t really want to go,” said Estes. They decided it would be fun, though.

The couple started their evening at 5 p.m., going to four different relatives’ homes to take pictures.

Estes said he ended up spending about $180 on a tuxedo and flowers. Black only spent $20 on flowers because she borrowed her sister’s dress.

Estes and Black, who have been dating on and off for about a year and two months, said they aren’t sure if they’ll go to prom next year.

“We probably will; I’ll make him go,” said Black. “I think it’s really, really fun.”

Jake Swanson, a junior, said he probably spent a total of $270 on a tuxedo, pictures, flowers, dinner and tickets.

“It only happens once a year,” Swanson said. “We’ve probably taken a bazillion pictures.”

Deb Cramblit, an art instructor at OHS, and Jackie Lawrence, an instructional specialist at OHS, planned the event with the help of about 24 students.

“They’re a very creative group of students,” Cramblit said. “A lot of my art students helped with some of the ideas.”

About 700 Ottumwa High School students attended the event and 20 staff members chaperoned the dance.

“Most of the teachers like to see the students,” Cramblit said. “We don’t see them dressed like this normally.”

The planning started at the beginning of the school year; Cramblit, Lawrence and a committee of students met twice a week. The prom was paid for with donations, fundraising money and ticket totals. About 25 businesses and community members donated to fund the event and about a dozen parents volunteered, said Lawrence.

Pat Shaver can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or via e-mail at

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