Prom vs. COVID


Elle Hacker and Jacob Sparks attending 2019 prom. Photo Courtesy: E. Hacker

Shelbie Gray, Staff Writer

The end of the year is normally a very exciting time for seniors. Prom normally happens towards the end of the school year, but this year’s seniors didn’t get a prom their junior or senior year due to COVID. That hasn’t stopped some seniors from planning their own prom to still get the experience. Senior Elle Hacker and her friends among other students in the senior class that has decided to get creative with their own end-of-the-year celebrations. 

   “We were actually going to have our own little prom group. So, I know [students] were planning a little senior party where people can just hang out because our senior day was canceled and our plans for prom are we will all still dress up and go out to dinner,” Hacker said. 

  Hacker was able to go to prom as a sophomore, at the time her boyfriend was a junior and invited her. Hacker looked back on how prom would have been different if she was able to go as a junior or senior. 

  “I think prom would have been more special as an upperclassman, just because I would have been around more of my peers that I was friends with, that were almost juniors or seniors but it was still a fun experience since I was still with some of the upperclassmen I am friends with”

   Sadly, most of the class of 2021 didn’t get to experience prom due to COVID canceling both juniors and seniors prom. Senior Madelynn Johnson is one of the many students that were unable to attend prom throughout her high school career.

  “I wasn’t able to go and the thing is with prom like everyone’s wants to go regardless if you like dances or not, everyone wants to experience prom in some type of way. So, to have like nothing is kind of disappointing,” Johnson said. 

  Even if a traditional prom was out of the picture, most seniors were hoping to do something in place of prom. 

  “I was expecting some sort of variation of prom. We talked about having a gala, which I was super excited about because all the junior boys were looking for a date,” said Johnson 

  Prom has been an American tradition for ages. Senior Sonny Haworth feels like a big part of high school that generations in the past have gotten to do was taken from him and the rest of the seniors. 

  “It kinda sucks because I get to see all my parents in their prom pictures and seeing other schools get to have this American tradition and I don’t get to take part in it which bums me out,” Haworth said. 

  Last year during the normal time prom would be, Michigan was on total lockdown so prom was not an option. Lead Principal Joe Esper talks about how COVID has impacted prom for the last two years. 

    “This year what made it difficult was that our prom is about four to six hundred students, and there are also very few venues in Traverse City that can handle that number of students,” Esper said.

  Esper has also been working with some of the state organizations to get an understanding of where gathering restrictions are going. About a week after spring break, the restriction had opened up but not enough for what a normal prom looks like for West. 

  “The biggest things that we can’t do are events that consist of gathering a huge group of people indoors, having really close contact, and feeding them. Our prom has elements of all of those things in the past, four to six hundred students indoors, dancing which is really close, and we always have appetizers and food at prom,” Esper said.

  Another major reason prom wasn’t able to happen this year is so there was no risk of seniors missing their last few weeks of high school. 

  “If the unfortunate thing happens and someone shows up with COVID, all those kids would be quarantined and that would have made seniors miss their last day of school and exams. With Central’s prom, they would have missed graduation. So, when we weighed it out we decided it wasn’t worth the risk this year,” Esper said.

   This year’s seniors have missed a lot but many good lessons were taken out of their high school career. 

  “I feel like in my underclassmen years, I tried my best to be involved and try to gain a perspective of the school without feeling like I’m not worthy. I know a lot of underclassmen feel like they have to wait until they are older to experience those fun parts of high school but I think it’s important they start younger because you never know when something like this will happen,” Johnson said.

   Haworth gives some words of advice for upcoming juniors and seniors from his own experience. 

  “Appreciate the little things through high school because not everyone gets the big things,” Haworth said.