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Freeland's first prom

Some of the underclassmen at Coupeville High School's prom dance Saturday night who were at their first prom were not alone. The very building they were in, Freeland Hall, was having its first prom, too.

At 80-plus years in age, the hall, which has hosted weddings, political conventions, parties and almost every other type of gathering in the past, was the site of a high school prom for the first time in its history. As far as anyone can remember, anyway.

According to Coupeville High School teacher Kim Meche, the school's choice to use the hall this year stemmed both out of a wish for variety and out of necessity.

Barred from holding prom off Whidbey Island by school rules, the high school needed a place large enough to hold 100 dancers and a venue that was different than past year's choices.

Last year, the school held its prom at the Oak Harbor Elks Club. That was not a popular choice, said Coupeville junior Megan Burlington, who said she preferred this year's location.

"It's better than the Elks Club," she said.

One of Burlington's friends, junior Stephanie Araucto, clarified that thought.

"It's more intimate," she said.

A true statement in many ways. Though it has a dance floor that is slightly larger than that at South Whidbey's Bayview Hall, Freeland Hall was still a bit on the cozy side when all the promgoers made the scene. Thanks to a remodel in 2000, dancers could escape onto the hall's new deck when the place got too crowded.

While it may be that somebody held a prom at the hall in the past, no one can recall it. Lee McFarland, the director of the Island County Parks Department, said he cannot recall a prom being held in the building in the years the county has owned it.

Certainly no recent Langley or South Whidbey High School proms have been held in Freeland Hall, according to Bayview resident Eva Mae Gabelein. A high school student in the 1940s on South Whidbey, she said all her proms were held at Bayview Hall or in the school gymnasium.

Saturday's prom lasted about three hours, ending at midnight.

School officials do not have a prom site selected for next year.

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