SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(05/20/14) - Saginaw High and Arthur Hill will hold their proms this week.
The celebrations come one year after a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed at an unofficial pre-prom gathering in the city.
Three others were injured. Four men have been charged in the case.
This year, city and school district officials are trying to pre-empt those unofficial gatherings with an invitation-only event.
"You can't get in without a ticket," said Art O'Neal, of Saginaw Public Schools.
On Thursday and Friday, that's what you'll need to get on Ojibway Island in the early evening hours.
Saginaw High and Arthur Hill seniors will get those tickets, up to three for each senior. That will allow access for prom-goers and their guests to congregate, take pictures and celebrate the end of high school.
The idea was hatched in the wake of a shooting at a non-sanctioned pre-prom event in 2013. Tonquinisha McKinley died in the crossfire.
"It was a tragedy, we lost one of our students. This year, we want to, we want to make sure our seniors can celebrate the year, the year of 2014, the class, in a safe manner," O'Neal said.
Saginaw High seniors and guests will be on Ojibway on Thursday, and Arthur Hill students on Friday. The proms will start in other locations shortly after the pre-prom gatherings wrap-up.
Saginaw Police know students still might be planning to attend other parties.
"We have advised them not to," said Sgt. Reggie Williams, of the Saginaw Police Department.
Williams says students and guests will be joined by police officers and school security personnel.
"What is great about Ojibway is that there is only one way in, one way out, and we can monitor that a lot easier than we could some large parking lot," he said.
O'Neal says there will be security at the proms as well.
"Our students going to the prom are never the problem, it's that outside element that continues to provide an unsafe and unsecured environment for our students," he said.
On both Thursday and Friday, Ojibway Island will close at about 5 p.m. to prepare for the pre-prom festivities.