Last year, the Class of 2020 had a spring full of celebrations ahead of them. With prom only a month away, many seniors already had outfits picked out and were busy fantasizing about the big day.
On March 12, 2020, the seniors had so much to look forward to. The next day, the world shut down.
In an instant, COVID-19 took over and the school year stopped without warning. The festivities stopped with it. The Class of 2020 was forced to hang up their dresses and tuxedos for good.
This year, the Twin Valley High School Class of 2021 students were able to open their closets for an all-new, pandemic-style prom.
Despite many challenges, the Junior Class Advisors Melissa Koehler and Sara Peek, both foreign language teachers, found a way to organize a fun and safe prom.
The event took place in the school gymnasium, parking lot, and turf field, allowing students to practice social distancing. There were “dancing dots” spread six feet apart and masks were required. Six security guards and many chaperones attended the event to ensure that regulations were being followed.
With the lack of other events and celebrations this year, having a prom was extremely significant to the student body.
“I think it’s such a milestone in American high schools throughout the nation. Other countries don’t have a prom; they just know about it from Hollywood and movies, and it’s just such an important part,” said Peek.
With the theme of Around the World, Twin Valley expanded the American tradition of prom to include a variety of cultures.
Upon entry, students traded in their boarding pass tickets for a passport detailing the events of the night and their choices of food. Different types of cuisine from all over the world were available at food trucks set up around the school, including Mexican, Italian, Caribbean, Californian, Asian, and a French café.
The TVHS Prom featured a variety of activities including professional karaoke, table tennis, giant Jenga, Spikeball, corn hole, and a photo booth.
The parents of students and other members of the community got involved as well. People donated the games; a parent that works as a professional artist painted a mural; Kim Barndt’s culinary class baked pastries; and Twin Valley Coffee gave every student a coupon for a free drink.
The freedom and variety of choices defined this prom.
Many students appreciated the opportunity to participate in different activities.
“You didn’t have to have a sit-down dinner and then dance. You could do different things,” said senior Anna Posh, who has never been to a traditional prom but believes that she would still prefer this new, laid back event.
“I went to the prom in 10th grade and it was way more formal. I just thought this [prom] was more fun and there was more to do,” said senior Emily Lerch, who is a fan of casual things, so this prom was exactly her style. Her favorite part was playing games on the turf, specifically Spikeball.
Many students enjoyed the prom not for its resemblance to a traditional prom but for its differences. This new, innovative, and creative event may set a precedent for future events.
However, with all of the risks of COVID-19, students almost missed out on this experience.
“[Prom] is a really, really important, quintessential part of the American high school experience, and it kind of marks the end of your high school career,” said Peek.
After missing out on so much this year, Twin Valley’s upperclassmen were finally able to enjoy a safe celebration. As the end of the year approaches, with graduation on the horizon, students were able to make lasting memories that they will carry with them for years to come.
For the Class of 2021, the thought of leaving high school is exciting but also very frightening. However, this last hurrah is a reminder that Twin Valley is much more than a school; it is a community and a family that students can depend on.