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Desert Vista High School junior Chelsea Cook knows about prom. Though this year was her first to attend, she’s seen both of her older siblings go through the process of getting ready for the big night.
"I think when you have older siblings you know how it all works," said Cook's mom, Mary Diedrich.
"She’s been waiting years to do this, it’s her time to shine."
Cook, 17, spent a quiet afternoon at home with Diedrich after getting her hair done at Great Clips and picking up her date's boutonniere.
She sat in the bathroom of their quaint Ahwatukee home near Club West as she delicately applied each of her press-on nails in a French manicure design, her hair styled in spiral curls with two thin braids clipped in the back with a barrette.
"What time do I put my dress on?" Cook asked.
"Do you have anything else you need to do?” Diedrich inquired.
"Then it’s time.”
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"Now you're almost as tall as me," said Diedrich, teasing Cook about her height after she put on her heels.
"No more short jokes," Cook exclaimed.
"Yeah, for today," Diedrich said playfully.
Soon enough, Cook saw a familiar car pull into the driveway.
"Do I get the door?" Diedrich asked Cook and other daughter, Meghan.
"No, no," Cook said.
In a bow tie matching Cook's floor-length teal gown, fellow junior and boyfriend Danny Quian arrived at Cook's home with her corsage in hand.
"Wow, you guys look great together," said Diedrich, admiring the couple.
Her corsage and his boutonnière happened to be nearly identical, though they ordered them separately.
Before meeting Quian's mom and sister at a nearby lake for couple photos, Cook made sure she had time to pin Quian's boutonnière.
"Do I use all three pins?" said Cook, trying not to prick herself.
With the help of Diedrich and her older sister, Meghan, she secured the flowers onto his lapel, drawing laughs from everyone after inadvertently getting pricked.
That Saturday afternoon in Ahwatukee was pushing a temperature of about 96 degrees as Cook and Quian's group of friends met outside at a nearby lake for group and couple photos.
Cook and Quian walked down a long, winding sidewalk along the residential lake near 33rd Street and Chandler Blvd. Joining their friends, other parents and family members, the group mingled around the lake and fountain for their turn to get photos taken.
Wearing the same dress as friend and senior Lori Fusak, who would later be named Prom Queen, the girls laughed and chatted about their plans for after the dance—an all-girls sleepover.
After the group was properly placed for their group photo, taken by friend Paul Berg's father, Cook gave her mom a hug just before heading out to dinner.
"I love you," said Diedrich as she looked at her daughter and hugged her. "Have fun."
Tucked in the back of Scottsdale steakhouse Roaring Forks, the group mingled in the dim restaurant just minutes away from their prom's location.
Among the sounds of chiming glasses and the hustle of silverware by a nearby waiter, Cook and Quian sat at the end of the long table talking with friends about what time they want to arrive to their dance.
"I think they let people in at 8:30," said senior Sami Kassab, cutting his steak.
Naturally, the group wanted to be fashionably late, making plans to arrive after doors open.
With after-graduation plans and expectations for college looming, the guys started talking about the perrils of wearing multi-piece tuxedos
Cufflinks being one of them.
"They were too loose," said Quian, showing Kassob his sleeve. "That's why I just didn't wear them."
A line started forming outside of The Venue in Old Town Scottsdale as Cook, Quian and friends arrived.
Almost resembling a club scene, school staff checked student IDs before letting them through. As the group finally trickled into the dance hall, they joined hundreds of fellow students.
The prom aimed for a 1920s theme though a DJ spun radio hits from the stage at the back of the room with bright lights projected throughout the crowd. A second level featured a lounge and separate ball room where photos were taken, along with a balcony where the Prom Court was presented.
Gowns of peach, teal, white and creme were popular choices for girls.
Cook and Quian finally let loose and danced, after wandering around the venue and leaving Cook's shoes in an upstairs hallway with a dozen other pairs, about an hour before the student body called it a night.
"Prom is a time to celebrate high school in general," said one student on the upper level.
While students were still enjoying the last few songs, Cook and Quian contently walked out onto 3rd Avenue to Quian's car just before midnight—hand in hand.
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