Some Merced High School students are willing to do whatever it takes to have a memorable prom, even at the cost of $155 to $165 per ticket.
Labeled on its Web site as a sophisticated Asian-inspired downtown San Francisco night club, the Infusion Lounge was Merced High School's junior class pick for senior prom.
For couples, the cost to attend is up to $330. Not exactly recession-friendly prices, and that's not including tuxedo rentals, new dresses, makeup, flowers and shoes.
More than half of Merced High School students are classified as economically disadvantaged.
Ticket prices cover transportation, dinner and the venue.
Students are required to take school transportation to the event.
During Friday's lunch hour, students gathered in front of their usual lunchtime destinations along Olive Drive -- Bagel Time, McDonald's and the gas station.
Several students had mixed reactions to the ticket prices.
While most agreed that the cost was high, they felt compelled to buy tickets to complete their high school experience.
"We're high scholars, we can't afford that," Angel Moa said as she shrugged. Yet, she admitted she was still planning on attending.
"It only happens once, so it's good to glad up once in a while."
Jorge Medina, 17, said the ticket prices didn't bother him.
"There's nothing that could go wrong with being with all your friends that you've been together with for four years," he said. "It's worth it."
When junior class officers did their initial investigation into different venues for prom, they neglected to estimate gratuity and other costs, said Merced High School activity director Larry Lopez. The total was much higher than they anticipated, he said.
"They wanted it at the biggest and best place possible," Lopez said. "I think a lot of people don't want to see the venue change."
In addition to the club rental, tickets cover the renting of 14 buses to drive junior and senior students to San Francisco.
Junior class officers were worried that not enough people could afford to go and then they might go into debt, Lopez said. The class officers decided they needed to survey students Friday to see how many people would prefer to go to prom locally, Lopez said.
The school may consider having a fundraiser to help out students who can't afford prom, Lopez added.
China Moa said she was really looking forward to senior prom, but the prices have dissuaded her from going.
"Memories are worth more than money," said Maude Moore, 17.
There are about 1,200 students in both grades at Merced High, and according to Lopez, usually 600 students attend prom. Last year's MHS prom was held at UC Merced and it cost less than $100 per ticket. The school alternates every year between having the event in town and out of town.
Buhach Colony High School's prom tickets are $100 with dinner and $75 without food, and the event will take place at Bass Lake Pine Resort south of Yosemite.
The school district's three other comprehensive high schools -- Atwater, Golden Valley and Livingston -- have not yet released ticket prices and locations for prom.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.