Photo Essay: For Local Students, Prom is More Than a Night (Part I)

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Dominique Wallace prepares for prom at her brother’s home in Broadview, where her sister-in-law, Kayla Boddy, made her up for the night. See more of Boddy’s work here. | Sebastian Hidalgo 

Dominique Wallace_FiveTuesday, May 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || Photos by Sebastian Hidalgo & Shanel Romain || @maywoodnews

Dominique Wallace, a senior track star at Proviso East High School, is the youngest of Evelyn Wallace’s five kids. Her prom date, Jon Sylvester Jr., is a senior at the school and a track star and the youngest of Lisa Shell’s five kids. They are both college-bound. And for both of them, April 28 — prom night — is bittersweet.

“I wish his father was here,” says Shell as her son strolls through Wallace’s crowded living room with his track coaches and teammates beaming behind him. Many people in the house, located in Maywood, are seeing Sylvester suited up for the first time during one of the biggest nights of his life.

Sylvester’s father, Jon Sylvester Sr., died around a decade ago. Wallace’s brother, Erskine Boddy IV, died last September from cancer. Her grandmother, Janice Johnson, died earlier this year.

Dominique will hold a cut-out of Erskine’s portrait while she and Jon bask in the camera phone light emitted from well-wishers moments before they ride off to their destination. Her grandmother’s cherished dog, now hers, will watch the whole affair from a comfortable spot on the family’s front lawn.

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“I happen to know part of her story and so I hope she knows why I’m proud,” Wallace’s principal, Dr. Patrick Hardy, tells a small group gathered earlier during the day at the high school after it was announced that Wallace had won a prom-related essay contest.

“Everything you accomplish is for a reason and it pushes you to the next notch. It just fills that story up,” Hardy says.

If there’s a beginning to that story, it may well be some three decades ago in a classroom inside of Proviso West High School. Evelyn, a senior, was pregnant with her first child.

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“I was in school when my bag broke,” Evelyn says. “I only needed one class to graduate.”

She would carry her kids to her nursing classes, “taking them to school with me at night.”

She went to work and then to Triton, taking night classes and working full-time during the day. She put herself through nursing school. CNA, LPN and RN — in that order. Over that period, she got married and divorce and had more children until she looked up and was a single mother of four.

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“You know, with each one, my main thing I focused on is God, education and then sports,” Evelyn said.

Her oldest daughter, Enjoli Edwards, 30, was an all-state track star in high school who is now studying law. Erskine, who played college basketball, was an engineer.

Dominque Wallace_Waiting

Anthony Boddy, 25, played college football and briefly flirted with entering the NFL draft before deciding to focus on engineering. Her second-youngest daughter, Alexis, is studying pre-med. Wallace didn’t say whether or not Alexis she played sports, but that can be assumed. Dominique, like her brothers, has an interest in engineering and plans to study the field in college.

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Hours before driving to her mother’s Maywood home for her prom sendoff, Wallace  sits in the basement of Anthony’s Broadview home, which he remodeled with his own hands (he’s even built himself a movie theater) as Anthony’s wife, Kayla, 23, applies makeup.

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Wallace wears a silk gown and layers of stress. She’s thinking about Jon Sylvester’s suit and whether or not it might match her dress, which Anthony designed on his smartphone.

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Enjoli is holding Anthony’s and Kayla’s newborn child, Anthony Jr., while grappling with the fact that her baby sister, Evelyn’s youngest child, is going off to prom and, soon, to college, and then, into the world.

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“I’m happy but also sad because she’s going to go away and off to college,” Dominque’s father, Curtis Wallace, will say as his daughter prepares to emerge from her parents’ house and into a crowd of friends and relatives and neighbors, their phones outstretched.

“I kind of feel like Fred from Sanford and Son. You know how Fred was always trying to fool his son into not leaving? I’m kind of like that with her.” VFP

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A ‘Purpose-filled Prom’

Last month, the Village Free Press, with the key sponsorship of the Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood Chambers of Commerce, hosted an essay contest.

We urged those students attending prom this year in Proviso Township High Schools District 209 to write a short piece on the following prompt: Describe how attending prom is a highly anticipated milestone that will prepare you for the next chapter of your life?

The students who wrote the three highest vote-getting essays received first, second and third place cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100, respectively. The first-place winner was featured in a full-page photo essay, with a photographer and VFP reporter covering the big day from preparation to prom night.

All five finalists will have their prom sendoffs photographed and will receive free digital access to those photos, some of which were featured online and in the May and June print issues of the Village Free Press.

The winners were (from first- to fifth-place):

  • Dominique Wallace, Proviso East
  • Diana Guzman, Proviso West
  • Daisy Zaragoza, PMSA
  • Cynthia Suaste, PMSA
  • Joshua Bell-Bey, PMSA 

Note: Daisy Zaragoza’s photos will be featured in the June print issue of the Village Free Press, since her prom took place after the print deadline. Part II of this prom photo series will be published tomorrow, May 17.

Meaning in details 

 

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