Jessica Pope has devoted the better part of this year to thinking about prom.
The Glenbard East High School senior spent the past two months forgoing lunch so she could instead use that money for a dress. Weekends were spent babysitting to raise more cash.
Her boyfriend, a Marine stationed at Fort Lee, Va., received permission from his superiors to fly to Chicago for the weekend just for the dance.
But the couple won't be attending tonight's event.
Officials at the Lombard school informed Pope, 18, that her 21-year-old boyfriend, Francisco Velasco, who grew up in Addison, is too old to attend the function.
"The main reason is that 21 is a legal age for alcohol consumption and that's always a concern we have at proms," Glenbard East Principal Robert McBride said Friday.
Pope still can attend on her own, but she has decided to skip prom to spend time with her boyfriend.
"I'm extremely, extremely, extremely upset," Pope said. "I've been looking forward to (prom) literally my whole life. I've been thinking about it all year … and planned everything out."
McBride conceded that Pope's permission form was less than clear about the age restrictions for student dates.
Pope "received an older form that said no guest over the age of 21 could attend," McBride said.
"That left her with the impression that 21 is the maximum age," McBride said. "That was our mistake, giving her the outdated form."
To help make up for the miscommunication, McBride said the school would refund Pope's two $75 tickets.
And according to Pope, school officials on Friday also promised to pay for her $125 prom dress. But the Glendale Heights teen will be on the hook for about $150 worth of expenses involved in the post-prom activities.
Joan Daniels, Pope's mother, said she was furious with the school district over the incident.
"They didn't even bother to say 'I'm sorry,'" Daniels said. "The whole point of this prom was for my daughter and her boyfriend to attend together.
"Now her memories will be ruined."