Prom is Happening. Should it Be?

Amidst sidetracked senior years and safety concerns, students prepare for parent-planned dance.


Sruthi Ramesh

With only a few days left until prom, students prepare for the unexpected event in a year full of unpredictability.

Lizzie Kayser , Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger

In American pop culture, prom is framed as the pinnacle of one’s high school experience. Raised on High School Musical and Mean Girls, limousines and long dresses had filled most kids’ heads growing up, anxiously awaiting the day they could hit the dance floor themselves. 

“[There’s] all those Disney Channel movies where it’s like ‘the big dance’— it’s this huge thing. You look forward to that,” senior Meghan Coyle said. “You want that moment. You want that experience to happen.” 

With prom season in full swing, this “moment”  is finally within reach for juniors and seniors. There’s just one problem: Troy Bolton never had to worry about a mask. 

Due to COVID-19, prom was canceled across the school district for the 2020-2021 school year. However, in a push for normalcy, a committee of senior parents have planned an unofficial prom for April 10. This has no affiliation with the school, nor any of its clubs or organizations. 

But in the midst of a pandemic, how can student safety be ensured? Where is the line drawn between necessary and unnecessary risk?

Following a year full of changes, senior Jackson Koelling is among the students who think prom should look as normal as possible, no different than how it would in a typical year. 

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“I believe that we deserve a prom. I am not concerned about COVID-19, mainly because we all hangout with the majority of the people in our class and the classes below us,” Koelling said. “For me personally, high school has been full of great memories with friends and to not experience prom would be criminal.”

Since it isn’t a school-sponsored event, the COVID-19 guidelines followed at school will not apply at prom. Masks, though encouraged, will not be required. Instead, a “mask-only” room will be offered, separate from the main ballroom. This aspect is essential to prom-goers such as Coyle, who worry about the environment the main ballroom may present. 

“I’m happy that [prom is] happening, I’m just apprehensive about how it’s going to go down and how everything is going to resolve after that,” Coyle said. “If they wouldn’t have done a mask only room, I don’t know if I would have gone. I’m really grateful that’s happening so I can feel comfortable going.”

Senior Lena Granberry feels similarly to Coyle. Though she initially had reservations, Granberry has decided to go to prom— while keeping as safe as possible. 

“I’m feeling a little iffy about prom, I do plan on going while making sure to keep myself safe. I wasn’t going to go to prom at first because of safety concerns my parents had in regards to our health, but after talking it over we decided it was ok for me to go as long as I quarantine afterward,” Granberry said. “I think for the event itself the safety precautions are adequate. I really like the addition of the masked room for those who want to take extra precautions. Masks are encouraged but not enforced because it’s not a school event. I will be wearing a mask and hope that everyone else does the same.”

Still, some students fear that having only one COVID-safe section will not be enough to keep themselves and their peers safe. For junior Athena Widlacki, the risk that a large gathering like prom poses— when guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing will not be followed— outweighs the benefits. 

“I’m glad the seniors get to experience it, but I don’t think it’s the safest thing when it comes to COVID,” Widlacki said. “I think it could become a superspreader, which could endanger a lot of us.” 

Though Widlacki will not be attending the prom, she hopes her peers will be cautious should they choose to go. 

“They should try to wear their masks as much as possible, and maybe not dance in the middle, try to stay away from everybody else around them,” Widlacki said. 

If there’s one thing the student body has in common, it’s a strong desire for the pandemic to end. For now, however, all there is to do is adjust to the circumstances. 

Senior Emily Brockmann worked with other students to plan last year’s prom before quarantine led to its abrupt cancellation. Though the theme and decorations will be passed down, prom as the Class of 2021 envisioned it will never come into fruition. Still, like most seniors, Brockmann is trying to shift her perspective toward the good. 

“At this point I’ve just kind of decided to make the most out of [my senior year]. I think especially little things— like, I got to have my tennis season and I got to have senior sunrise—  those were like little sparks of hope for me,” Brockmann said. “It’s just been taking it one day at a time.”

Whether prom this year means turning it up on the dance floor or Disney movie marathons on the couch, it’s certain to be a night to remember— in a year impossible to forget.