Students dance maskless and shoulder to shoulder in the center of a ballroom as “Cupid Shuffle” blares from the speakers. While this may sound like a scene from 2019, it’s really a description of Bexley’s 2021 senior prom, held on May 8, 2021.
Throughout the school year, the possibility of a prom was a looming question. However, the dedication of two senior parents, Kate Wilson and Dina O’Dell, made the prom a reality.
To determine whether prom was even a possibility, Wilson explained that she and O’Dell sent out a survey to all of the seniors to gage whether there was interest, and after receiving a positive response they worked with vice principal Craig McMillen and principal Kristen Robbins to form a covid-safe plan.
O’Dell explained that in order to have social distancing at the event, students were allowed to go outside and windows and doors were kept open.
However, despite the looming coronavirus, Wilson said the event went great.
“At several points during the night all of the tables were empty and every single person was on the dance floor,” Wilson said.
Another big difference was who was allowed to attend. Wilson explained that in other years, both seniors and juniors are allowed to attend and bring dates from other schools. For this year, however, only seniors were allowed and they weren’t allowed to bring dates from other schools, bringing the attendance number down to 134, O’Dell said.
“The smaller number allowed for a very fun and intimate evening,” Wilson said. “It was a lot less crowded than a normal year.”
O’Dell explained that because the seniors weren’t allowed to bring dates from other schools, many took friends from Bexley as their date.
“They did a good job of pairing up and going with other seniors as a ‘date’ even though they were just friends,” O’Dell said. “A lot of kids still did promposals, corsages, boutineers, and pictures together even if it was just as friends.”
Olivia Mitchell said that the COVID-19 restrictions made the prom more enjoyable for her.
“I was excited that it was only seniors because it was the first time that we were all able to be together,” Mitchell said.
She said that while there was originally some pushback from the seniors about the mandatory attendance for three and a half hours, Mitchell felt like that was what made this prom so enjoyable.
“At most dances people leave as soon as they get there, but since everyone was still there and had to stay we had so much more fun together,” Mitchell said. “It was probably the most fun school dance I’ve ever been to.”
Senior Will Ross said he also found the prom surprisingly enjoyable.
“I thought it would be like homecoming, where people just stand around and then leave,” Ross said. “More people were dancing and getting into it, and it didn’t feel like they were being forced to stay until 10.”
Ross said that his favorite moment at the prom was at the end, when he and a friend got to dance together after most of the other seniors had left.
“My friend Thomas and I stayed after and requested a song,” Ross recalled. “We went absolutely crazy to that five minute song and that made the night for me.”
Ross said that he thought people would be lined up at the doors to leave, and that he was surprised that people actually wanted to stay and be at the dance. He said that for him this made the dance a lot more enjoyable.
Senior Grant Nguyen went into the night more concerned with COVID-19 than others, but even he felt like this didn’t put a damper on the night.
“I was a little worried about how COVID-19 friendly it would be,” Nguyen said. “But there was a lot of comfort in knowing that people were vaccinated.”
This wasn’t Nguyen’s first prom as he also attended as a sophomore, which contributed to his anxiety about the coronavirus.
“I knew that prom isn’t something where social distancing and masks wouldn’t be the most applicable,” Nguyen said. “I was expecting to have more fun because the restrictions wouldn’t be as strict.”
Overall, Nguyen said that the prom was a great experience and that he was glad it was able to happen despite the turbulent year.
“I think this was an energy that had been lacking throughout the year, and the prom served as a culminating moment for the senior class together,” Nguyen said. “It showed that we were all able to get through this year together and gave everyone a renewed spirit.”