Prom planning has been quite the endeavor this year as the Class of 2021 has had to research and attempt to understand what exactly the school rules are with respect to large gatherings at the back end of this pandemic. Rumor has it, a June 9 event will take place on Franke Field. Will the end product be worth the effort? While the students anticipate a “prom,” the administration has strategically deemed the event “Senior Celebration,” though no one knows what exactly this name change accomplishes.
To pull off a promising event in six weeks, the Senior Grade Council wrote up a formal proposal highlighting why a large tent and dance floor, DJ and photographer, and some sort of snacks and seating area are essential to a prom. The proposal reasoned that if the current practices at Upper School (US) lunch, such as sitting in circles and eating on the turf, are allowed with 390 students during the “all in” model, similar practices at an event with only 134 seniors should be allowed as well.
The grade council reassembled the Class of 2021 Student Activities Committee (SAC) to pool ideas for decorations and, following the administration’s decree that prom would come at no cost to students, to budget and book all aspects of the event. With every service contract signed and lawn game rented, the SAC provided an approximate price to the grade council, who then passed it on to Grade 12 Deans Stephanie Guilmet and Jake Nagy, who then passed it onto Director of Student Services Kimberly Gold, US Director Geoff Theobald, and Head of School Jen Price for approval. This was a large game of telephone, people, but the seniors prevailed and are proceeding with an enchanted forest theme featuring string lights, fresh flowers, vines, and candlelit lanterns for the evening.
SAC member Patricia Halliday ’21 said that during a year when the Class of 2021 has lost so much, even the prospect of a prom is very exciting.
“I see this prom as an opportunity for our grade to bond, and I hope that we can create memories that will stay with us forever,” Patricia said. “I hope we have positive attitudes and have as much fun as we can while also staying safe.”
In a vaccination poll the grade council sent seniors, 92 of 107 respondents said they would be fully vaccinated prior to May 26, which is two weeks until prom. That report coupled with the relaxed CDC guidelines around mask wearing and social distancing has provided hope of a prom as close as possible to those held in the past.
Student Council Representative Sam Bernstein ’21 noted how tough planning has been without an in-person class meeting, requiring a lot of emails and middlemen, but she said she has been pleased with the progress nonetheless.
“The administration has been incredibly generous with what they are willing to give the seniors and are working hard to adapt to the constantly changing guidelines—as are the rest of us,” Sam said.
During this chase for the perfect prom during the pandemic, the seniors have secured a non-stake tent, flooring on the turf to accommodate those in high heels, and the promise of appetizers. The famous independent school league photographer Adam Richins will be in attendance taking pictures, and Rob Peters entertainment will provide the music. While we did lose the prospect of a maskless prom with a sit-down dinner at Stonehurst, the Robert Treat Paine Estate, and while the idea of bringing a date from outside the school or from another grade was denied before the proposal was even submitted, the wins the senior class did gain make the idea of prom feel more real to the students who look forward to it.
As for the dress code, the grade council has recommended long dresses or tuxedos that will lend our “prom-like experience” as much of a prom feel as possible. Meanwhile, reviving and updating an already well-known tradition, Chip and Dale, Black Hawk, Judy Blume, and Perry the Platypus (all ’21, all pseudonyms) have restarted the fabled Instagram account, @2021bbnpromposals, to feature and rate every Class of 2021 promproposal based on location, thoughtfulness, effort, and humor.
“Overall, we are seeing a major increase in sign quality,” one @2021bbnpromposals account owner said. “Especially since we are all in such different locations due to SSP, it’s awesome to see how creative people get. It’s such a positive platform and a good way to lift our peers up.”
So that’s it, folks, the inside scoop behind our new, unheard-of pandemic prom hopes and dreams. We want to thank the school and everyone else who’s worked so hard to make this event resemble prom during a time when we didn’t think it was possible. It may look different this year, but the point of prom remains the same: to party hard, enjoy a memorable high school experience, and create a decent sense of closure and normalcy after this crazy year.
—Aanika Patel ’21, vice president of the Class of 2021