KIRTLAND — Tia Allen, 17, left for prom Saturday night in a silky white gown and lacy black shoes. Her red hair was arranged in a curly red updo. She looked stunning.

"I told you my mom is crazy with pictures," she said to her date, Kace Sherwood, 17, as her mom snapped photos from all angles.

The pair endured the photos while awkwardly smiling and trying not to laugh. Giggles crept in anyway.

Allen, who is slender, blue-eyed and part Navajo, wrapped her hand which had French manicured nails around Sherwood, a stocky, bookish video game enthusiast with an infectious sense of humor.

"I'm really excited," said Sherwood, who donned a black and white tuxedo for the occasion.
Kirtland Central High School’s Tia Allen uses a compact to work on her make-up as she prepare for her high school prom on Saturday.
Kirtland Central High School's Tia Allen uses a compact to work on her make-up as she prepare for her high school prom on Saturday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


The feeling was mutual. Allen had been looking forward to Saturday for several months, in part because the night was hers literally.

The Kirtland Central High School junior is the head of the decorating committee at her prom this year. She had dreamed of designing the prom since she was a freshman. Because the junior class plans the annual dance, she finally got the chance to plan it this year.

"I hated not being part of prom last year," said Allen, who went last year but was not part of the planning.

This year was different.

Complete with golden leaves, white columns and glowing centerpieces, the prom's theme was "Grecian Getaway."

"This has been the theme that I have always thought of," said Allen, a self-proclaimed nerd who is a huge mythology fan.

Allen made sure she matched the theme, adding leaves and a golden flower in her hair.

How she looked, though, was not going to be on her mind as she walked into a room filled with her peers, she said.

"I'm going to be listening to what everyone's saying if they like the food, if they like the ice sculpture, if they like the decorations," said Allen while getting ready in her room, which was scattered with makeup and hair spray.
From left, Jasmine Benally and Dezzi Boyd watch Kensie Guillory work on Tia Allen’s hair, Saturday, at Allen’s home on Saturday.
From left, Jasmine Benally and Dezzi Boyd watch Kensie Guillory work on Tia Allen's hair, Saturday, at Allen's home on Saturday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


"There's a pound of bobby pins right there," said Sherwood's sister, Kensie Guillory, a cosmetology student, while styling Allen's hair. "Don't spill them."

As she preened, Allen admitted no nervousness. She had spent all of Friday and part of Saturday perfecting decorations, which were complete Saturday afternoon at the San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center.

"I don't remember anything from last year, but I remember every detail from prom," she said.

Since she was a child, Allen has liked to create and craft. In elementary school, she wanted to be an interior designer, said her mother, Audra Allen. She called her daughter a "go-getter.
Tia Allen pins a corsage to her date, Kace Sherwood, as they prepare to head off for their prom on Saturday.
Tia Allen pins a corsage to her date, Kace Sherwood, as they prepare to head off for their prom on Saturday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
" She still recalls how her daughter would cut out portions of her old clothing and make them into doll clothes.

She is stiill a crafter, as many of the accessories as Saturday's days were hand made by Allen and her crew.

"Having that self-confidence and that self-esteem is going to get her far," said her mom, Audra Allen.

So far, it has. Tia Allen has framed ribbons, awards, and certificates all over her bedroom wall. That's not even all of them, she said, noting that another 13 are stashed elsewhere.

In large part, Allen's accomplishments have resulted from her obvious ambition, which her classmates tease her about, but simultaneously love.

"We need like 10,000 Tias," said one of the students helping out with decorations Friday.
Tia Allen and Kace Sherwood leave Allen’s home, Saturday, for dinner before going to the Kirtland Central Prom at the Henderson Fine Arts Center.
Tia Allen and Kace Sherwood leave Allen's home, Saturday, for dinner before going to the Kirtland Central Prom at the Henderson Fine Arts Center. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


Allen herself has realized, especially while planning prom, the benefits of having that drive. It gets things done, she said.

"I like being in control," she said, adding that she wants to become a police officer and work her way up to the FBI.

On Saturday, however, the future was hardly a thought.

Before dining at the Outback Steakhouse in Farmington, she kissed her parents goodbye and rushed to the car.

"Hey buddy, don't forget to open her door," her mom shouted to Sherwood as he also hurried to the car.

Allen, however, was already inside, ready to go experience the prom she had always dreamed of, and finally had the chance to create.

Jenny Kane can be reached at jkane@daily-times.com; 505-564-4636. Follow her on Twitter
@Jenny_Kane.