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Seniors Hope for One More Hurrah — Prom

By Annabelle Wang l April 12, 2021

High school prom is one of the many traditions students were forced to skip when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world last year. Now, more than a year after the pandemic began, seniors express restrained hope that they can enjoy a prom, albeit with a social distancing twist. For some, prom is a culmination of years of eager waiting and daydreams.

Senior Diya Sethi tries on a prom gown at KiKi D’s in Montgomery.

For Mandi Shovlin, an MHS senior from Skillman, prom discussions began in her freshman year. “My brother was a senior, and I saw all of these girls in dresses… It just became something I really looked forward to,” Shovlin said.

Zofi Cavalli, a senior from Belle Mead, added that “like most young girls, the first time I started thinking about prom was when I watched High School Musical, in middle school. It was the whole thing about getting a date, dancing, and wearing a big princess dress.”

The administration at MHS is hard at work ensuring seniors get to experience their prom. May 7 is the tentative date, and the school has reserved both indoor and outdoor space at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton to prepare for sudden loosening or tightening of restrictions on indoor gatherings.

Another option is to hold prom on the MHS football field later in May. With additional planning work ahead, the administration expects to be able to release a more concrete plan later in April. Some seniors, including Cavalli, purchased their prom dresses last year when many retail stores held huge sales after the class of 2020 graduated.

Others went dress shopping this year, using masks and social distancing to stay safe. Students are also considering getting masks that match their outfits, creating a fashionable statement about pandemic resilience.

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Promposals and sharing a post prom house at the shore are perhaps two of the most negatively impacted prom traditions. In a straw poll of 27 seniors, 25 said they would not make an elaborately staged request to be someone’s date to a prom, and 12 said they would not stay in a prom house at the beach on account of COVID. However, many students say they would opt for small, private, pre-prom gatherings.

The biggest possible disappointment seniors discussed was simply not having a prom. A year of staying indoors has made it hard for some students to fully realize that this is their last year of high school. Since a large number of seniors do not plan on attending the Disney trip, many are just hoping for one last opportunity to say goodbye to their peers and glory in the final moments of high school, all together.

However, last year’s seniors proved that friendships and nostalgia can last even without prom. Ria Sharma of the Class of 2020 said that while missing out on a classic memory was initially disappointing, she’s since noticed that “more than half way through my first year of college, I’ve realized that there is so much more to look forward to after graduation and many more new memories to be made!” This attitude may be the new standard for high school students moving forward from the pandemic:

While prom and its many traditions are gratifying ways to say goodbye, the real friendships and life lessons each person gains matter more.


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