This week a group of Moffat County High School juniors will gather in the high school gymnasium everyday after school. They gather with one goal in mind -- to turn a space constructed for bouncing balls and squeaking gym shoes into an elegant dancehall.
Each day, from 4 to about 9 p.m., they work on decorating the gymnasium.
Junior Alayna Kline said this year's junior class is lucky because there is no school Thursday, during which time they can work all day on decorations -- giving them an advantage over previous junior classes that have the annual duty of decorating.
She said they hope to have the gymnasium done by Thursday night, so they can spend Friday night and Saturday morning working on the lobby.
In those hours after school everyday this week, the gym is like an oversized preschool art classroom, with cutting, gluing, pasting and glitter sprinkling.
A CD titled "Evanescene: Fallen" sits next to a blaring boom box up against a wall in the gymnasium providing a musical backdrop as the group works.
A McDonald's bag rests on the gym floor amongst cords, cardboard and tissue paper strewn about half of the gymnasium.
Fast food is essential during weeks like this because time is of essence for these students.
The prom will go on Saturday night, whether the decorations are finished or not.
But despite a few complaints about the ACT test (scheduled for today), and the lack of male student participation in the decorating, the girls who gathered in the gymnasium Tuesday seemed quite upbeat.
"A lot of the guys in the school say they don't like the girly purple and white colors," said Kline, who was bestowed the duty of organizing the gym decorating. "But I tell those guys they should have come to the meeting and voted."
This year's theme is "Eternal Bliss" and the decor scheme is pulled from the 2003 Anderson's Prom and Party catalogue, which is repeatedly referred to by the group of eight girls working on decorations.
The theme involves the construction of countless cardboard harps and horns.
In the midst of their dedicated work, the students find time to talk about that one special night they will spend everyday after school this week making sure is extra special.
Juniors Stephanie Brown and Amanda Vaughn have plans to eat out before prom with their dates and several other couples.
"Oh God," Vaughn said when asked who is more excited, she or her mother.
Brown agrees that the high school students aren't the only people fired up this week.
"My mom's doing my hair and my family's having a big get together for it," she said.
Prom is a big deal to everyone, Brown said.
"It's Craig," she said. "There's nothing else to do."
In another part of the gymnasium, Lisa McDermott and Kassie Dilldine work on constructing a cardboard structure, and admit they're not quite sure yet as to what it's for.
McDermott said she couldn't wait for prom night.
"You get to get dressed up, hang out with your friends and have a good time," she said.
Dilldine said she is having friends over for a barbecue before prom. She said her mom is not quite as excited about prom night as some of the other mothers might be.
"My mom has to cook for the barbecue," she said. "But I'm helping."
Not that she should have to, according to her friend McDermott
"It's our night," she interjects.
And their night will likely last early into the morning, with post prom activities scheduled at the Center of Craig.
"Post prom is my favorite because we get cool prizes, get to hang out with our friends and have an excuse to stay out late," McDermott said.
Working on yet another cardboard project, Cara Conci and Ashlee Hafey could not explain why prom was such a big deal in the community, but they had their own reasons for being excited.
"I think I'm the most excited about seeing everyone dressed up," Hafey said.
Conci said she -- and her family -- are excited for the same reason.
"My mom's pretty excited," she said. "She gets to see the kids all dressed up and that doesn't happen often."
Conci said there is some pressure in having a well-decorated gym because a given class doesn't want to be remembered as the one that hosted a "ghetto prom."
Every girl working Tuesday had a comment about the lack of participation from junior boys, but one guy showed up around 5 p.m. to break that mold.
"Some of the girls said they wanted a guy's input," said Aaron Sanchez, hanging a large curtain in the center of the gymnasium. "I thought I would give it a try yesterday and it wasn't half bad. So I came back"
While he looked forward to prom, Sanchez admitted that his fellow decorators were probably a bit more excited about Saturday night than he was.
"It's cool and all," he said of prom. "I'm excited to go, but it means a little more to the girls."
Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.