Early Friday night, more than 30 relatives and friends gather at Zipporah Coleman cousin’s house to celebrate a milestone in her life.
“Prom is a big deal,” says Doris Coleman, the mother of a Martin Luther King High School senior who, those in attendance feel, was a little kid just yesterday.
One of the most important parts of tonight’s transformation from student to prom date is getting her hair styled.
“I can’t wait for everyone to see Zipporah looking her age, in lashes and make up, in a dress!” says cousin LaToya McDonald
At McDonald’s house, devoted sister Doris Coleman brags about her sibling, showing off the drawings on Zipporah’s iPad.
Out the door
Later, as Zipporah is leaving for prom at the Loew’s in Center City, her sister’s face is streaked with tears. Her father James explains that his daughter will leave for Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in the fall. It’s tough for everyone.
Zipporah really likes her prom date Mustafaa Wise, but he’s also leaving for college in the fall; he’ll attend Kutztown University to study business.
James couldn’t be happier with his daughter’s prom date. He came recommended by James’ friend, who happens to also be MLK High’s principal. As such, Coleman expects to sleep well on his daughter’s prom night.
Wise is nervous about all the attention, especially when he walks up to the house and is greeted by a small mob with a camera phone in every hand.
Mustafaa and his dad, Bruce Wise, who cut his hair on prom morning, googled how to fix the special knot in his tie.
The kids were stressed about prom, leaving everything to the last minute because of school projects. Wise can remember talking about it with friends since the seventh grade.
Now that it’s here, they are relieved it’s finally happening.
As Zipporah makes her grand entrance down the living room stairs, so many who have known her since birth gasp and cheer with delight. McDonald, whose senior prom was 10 years ago, shakes her head.
“This is really happening!” she says.
This story was the final piece of NewsWorks’ Northwest Philadelphia “Preparing For Prom” series.