Students remain hopeful for prom despite uncertainty

WHS prom dress Instagram account
(Photo courtesy of Instagram @promdress_whs2021)

With the end of the school year on the horizon, students are beginning to make plans for prom. However, the lingering question of if there will even be a prom remains uncertain.

According to the WHS website, prom is currently scheduled for June 5 at Pines Manor. However, this is only a tentative plan, as Principal Mary Asfendis said, “Right now, we cannot say with certainty that a prom will take place on June 5 as planned, but we are hopeful to be able to hold on to this important senior year tradition.”

Administration is working alongside senior class advisors to brainstorm ideas for alternative prom celebrations depending on COVID-19 restrictions in June. It is likely that guidelines will change in the next few months, so a flexible plan that can adapt as the date approaches is necessary. Asfendis said, “We are bound by whatever the current regulations and recommendations are regarding COVID-19. Restrictions such as six feet of distancing, masks, capacity limits, et cetera will impact planning any event.”

At this point, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and outdoor to 25, so in order for 500+ students to attend prom, these numbers will have to rise in the next few months. Junior Class Advisor Erica Wright said, “All options are on the table at this point. We are exploring all possibilities that would keep our students safe and adhere to the state guidelines while also planning for the unknown.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding prom, WHS students remain hopeful for some form of celebration. Senior Rileigh Hewson said, “I think the school will do their best to give us a prom, and it will probably be outside with precautions. I will be happy if we are able to do anything for prom under the given circumstances.” 

Uncertainty hasn’t stopped some students from making plans and spending money. The WHS 2021 prom dress account on Instagram @promdress_whs2021 recently became active and is where students post pictures of the dresses they have bought for prom so two people don’t end up wearing the same dress. There are already over 40 posts on the account. Even though there is no “official” plan for prom, many students are eager to get and “claim” their dresses, while others want to hold out until an official prom plan is made.

Hewson said, “A lot of people are hesitant to buy dresses because we don’t even know if we are having a prom, and no one wants to spend so much money on a dress that they aren’t going to wear.”

Senior Hailey Stogner already bought her dress. “I found one that I really loved. Even if there isn’t a school prom, I’ll still do something with my friends, so I’ll get to wear it either way,” said Stogner.

While some students are unsure about whether the actual event of prom will occur, many are still planning on participating in the activities that occur surrounding prom, such as spending the weekend after prom at a prom house in Seaside Heights. Seniors have been organizing prom houses for months already, and many still plan on attending even if prom doesn’t happen. 

I plan on going because I’m running one of the prom houses,” said WHS senior Luke Barry. “We are taking as many precautions as we can while also understanding that prom house is a big party and that comes with concerns.”

Senior Johnny Paladino said, “The thing I am looking forward to the most is prom house. Every year the upperclassman would come back and say how fun it was, and I hope we get to experience it.”

However, other students are not attending prom house due to safety concerns regarding the pandemic. An anonymous senior who is not attending prom house said, “While there are safety precautions that could be taken, like everyone being tested beforehand, I just don’t think it’s the smartest or safest thing to do right now. I can only hope that people who do decide to go take necessary precautions if things are still bad in June. ”

No matter how it is celebrated, students just want to experience prom in some way, whether that be associated with the school or not. Stogner said, “If a traditional prom isn’t held, students will definitely create their own celebrations, similar to backyard proms that took place last year.”