May 25, 2013

The Prom: Cape teens are treated like royalty -- for a day

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

and Gillian Graham
Staff Writer

Connor Maguire first noticed Mackenzie Leighton in statistics class at Cape Elizabeth High School. He didn't know many people in the class, but she made him feel right at home.

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Mackenzie Leighton, a junior at Cape Elizabeth High School, and her date, Connor Maguire, a senior, attend their prom May 18 at The Portland Club in Portland.

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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Connor Maguire, a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, poses for a photo May 18. “I can’t think of another thing I’d want to spend my money on,” he said of the prom experience.

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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"She was friendly and funny," he said. "And obviously she looks pretty good, too."

After a few months, he finally asked her to dinner and a movie.

"It was kind of like the classic first date," Mackenzie said.

They went to Chipotle, saw "Tower Heist" and walked around Kettle Cove. Soon, the relationship -- the first for both -- was Facebook official. They've been best friends since.

"It's really easy," Mackenzie said. "I feel like I've known him forever."

Eighteen months and an eternity later, she was still excited to see him on prom night.


When it came time to ask his girlfriend to the prom, Connor was pretty sure he already knew the answer. But he wanted to make it special anyway, so he created an Easter egg hunt around his house. She opened the basement door looking for the last egg, only to find a poster with "Prom?" spelled out with chocolates.

Connor and Mackenzie went to the prom last year, too, he in a white tux jacket, she in a black dress. Before heading to the dance, they posed for photos with friends. In one shot, Connor and Mackenzie are captured mid-jump, their hands clasped and smiles stretched across their faces.

"She looked very nice last year," Connor said. "She was a step above the rest."

So when it came to his senior prom, Connor had no doubt that he and Mackenzie would have fun -- and that she would look great. While classmates worked on their own "promposals" -- a trend of asking dates to the prom in public or elaborate ways -- Mackenzie and Connor started making plans with friends. They would meet at a beach cottage for a pre-prom party with friends and parents, then load into a limo for the short drive to Portland for the "Casino Royale"-themed prom.


Mackenzie usually gets up around 10 on Saturday mornings, but last weekend she set her alarm for 8 a.m.

"We both woke up way before that," said Zoe Gillies, as she and Mackenzie, juniors at Cape Elizabeth High School, sat with their feet soaking in blue water at Today's Nails in the Mill Creek Shopping Center.

It wasn't nerves like last year.

"I think I'm just excited," Mackenzie said, holding her hands under a nail dryer.

Around Cape Elizabeth that Saturday, the prom seemed omnipresent.

During Mackenzie's and Zoe's nail appointments, two other girls from Cape came into the salon for their manicures.

When the girls stopped at Fiddleheads flower shop on the way back from South Portland, the coolers were filled with small cardboard boxes of corsages and boutonnieres with all their friends' names on them.

At Bellissimo on Route 77, where Mackenzie got her first-ever up-do, she heard the voice of a friend's mother and a lacrosse teammate as they came into the salon.

"Hi, Mrs. Flaherty," she yelled from under the blond strands that fell in front of her face.

"Jane, is that you?" she later called out to her team captain.

The girls and mothers she ran into throughout the day all talked about dresses and dates, where they were getting ready and how they were doing their hair -- the continuation of a conversation that started in the winter and would last long after the big night.

"It's really hyped up, which is half the fun of it, I guess," Mackenzie said.

She started browsing the Web in February to get ideas for dresses, but she found the one she wanted right away. It was long, and it was red.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Mackenzie Leighton gets her nails done at Today’s Nails in South Portland on May 18 in preparation for the prom. “I’m going with Connor,” she said. “I know I’ll have a good time.”

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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Mackenzie Leighton has her hair done by Aili Harmon at Belissimo in South Portland. It was her first up-do.

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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Mackenzie Leighton straightens Connor Maguire's bow tie.

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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Mackenzie Leighton, a junior at Cape Elizabeth High School, and Connor Maguire, a senior, pose on the beach as they are photographed before the prom by their mothers, Gwyneth Maguire, left, and Susan Leighton, right, May 18. After the dance, the couples returned to a Pine Point cottage to eat the leftovers from the potluck, make s’mores and play guitar by a fire pit.

Jill Brady / Staff Photographer

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Connor Maguire gets help with the final touches from his mother, Gwyneth, and father, Richard, at their home as he gets ready to meet his date.

Carl D. Walsh / Staff Photographer


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