Prom season is an exciting time for high school students across the country, many of them who celebrate at Olive Garden prior to the dance. We love being part of these celebrations and creating special moments for our guests. At my restaurant, we have one annual prom tradition that is especially meaningful to our team at the Onalaska, Wisconsin, Olive Garden.
Connie Sura is a high school science teacher at Logan High School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She teaches students with cognitive disabilities and noticed that many of her students were opting out of going to prom. So 10 years ago, she reached out to my restaurant to see if we could help make prom more memorable for her students so they could have a fun night out. The General Manager at the time was happy to provide a free meal for her and her students before the big dance, and the tradition has continued every year since.
My team members love the opportunity to give back to the community, and we even have one team member graduating from Logan High this year, so this was extra meaningful to her. Other businesses in the community have also jumped in to help out over time, such as a limousine service, hair stylist and florist.
As the new General Manager for this restaurant, I’m honored to be able to continue this tradition that has been in place for ten years. We just had this year’s dinner for Connie and her students. We hosted them at our family table and got to see them off to the dance. Everyone looked great and had a wonderful time.
I recently learned that Connie is retiring this year after many years of teaching and having a tremendous impact on her students’ lives. I assured her that we would continue the prom tradition and that she is always invited as well.
By: Jose Cisneros, General Manager, Olive Garden
For more about Connie Sura and her prom tradition, click here.
Pictured: The Onalaska Olive Garden service and culinary team for the Logan High prom students. From left to right: (first row) Carol Maddison, Molly Smits, Kayla Berger, Sara Conway (second row) Matt Mullen, Brent Regal, Jose Cisneros, Paul Ballweg