Look at it Our Way: Prom 2021

Emme Oliver , Editor-In-Chief

Everyone remembers the shuffling and unsettled stomachs coursing throughout Neshaminy on March 13 2020. Weeks later, not only were our friends and classrooms farther away than ever, our junior class trip, junior prom, and other crucial events were clawed from our eager hands. A little over a year later, the now senior class is at a standstill, with only a small beacon of hope. On April 9th at 6:43 p.m. Neshaminy High School’s principal Ryan Staub released a long-awaited email announcing a date and time for a senior prom and parade. Neshaminy students rejoiced only to glance at the fine print, ¨Neshaminy Seniors Only”. 

Students and parents are naturally outraged not only because this exception has completely disregarded students with relationships from other schools/in other grades but because some parents have been planning for Prom since last year with limos, dinner reservations, dresses, tuxes, etc… Those expenses going down the drain once again especially in a time of economic disparity has devastated parents and students alike. It’s likely our school board officials remember their proms, the neon lights, the poofy dresses, the mullets. 

Prom isn’t just a dance, it’s a staple of our culture, an integral part of the teenage dream. I ask anyone who’s ever been to prom, anyone, who’s ever been in love what’s the point of having a magical night if you can’t spend it with the person you want to? 

Neshaminy students have a definitive answer for this, After conducting a poll on Instagram 82% of students voted “no” when asked if they would still go to prom if they couldn’t bring their date. After all the time, effort, and money our administration and class officers have put in it would be a shame if the turnout wasn’t substantial enough to support what’s been dedicated. Thankfully,  there are solutions. I spoke with Bensalem High School senior class president Ally Black about her experiences with planning Bensalem’s prom which was allowed to have “outside dates” 

“For starters, we changed the venue to one outdoors. We were following another who is also having their prom at our venue, everyone also has to sign a Covid waiver and turn it in as they buy their ticket,” Black said. 

Many students have brought up the possibility of rapid testing, temper screening, and other precautions advised by the CDC. With the recent rule changing from 6 feet to 3 feet with masks, space can be more easily accommodated for, which is Neshaminy’s biggest concern. 

With our school just about reaching 2,600 students and our senior class at roughly 650, distancing would definitely be a problem in our scenario. Bensalem’s student population sits just above 2,000 reducing their senior class to about 150 less students than ours. 

The Neshaminy senior prom is also set to take place outdoors from the bus lot to the football stadium with live music, and many more surprises. Having the event outdoors is definitely an advantage especially since our acreage allows us to, and this actually puts us ahead of other schools who are holding similar events. Like Ally said, Bensalem rented an outdoor venue to allow for more space. Neshaminy doesn’t even need to rent a whole new venue as we have the space for it and more space could definitely allow for more dates. 

Another concern undoubtedly voiced by the community is the issue of bringing “outside students”. Many students are in relationships with others all over the county from Pennsbury to Council Rock, to Bensalem. Most schools are following similar protocols but how can Neshaminy ensure the safety of other students? Rapid testing and temperature checks could be a solution to this problem. I also want to remind parents and teachers that students bringing outside dates likely already hang out with these people outside of school without masks. Being in a controlled masked environment with these extra precautions put in place will help aid in a safer and more fun experience for everyone. 

Another excellent point was brought up by senior Devin Roskos who’s disappointed that she’s unable to bring her boyfriend from Holy Ghost to Neshaminy prom. As an athlete herself, Devin pointed out the close contact between students from different schools in our sports games, 

“Literally with wrestling, they’re wrestling other kids from different schools…sweating on each other so that’s the main reason I think it’s unfair,” Roskos said. 

Like prom, school sports are an essential part of the high school experience. Mask wearing and temperature checks are put in place and contact tracing is required if a player contracts the virus. These precautions are already in place for numerous activities and are mainly successful in providing a safe and fun environment for everyone. 

Our senior prom is a moment to treasure. The fact that it’s not traditional was expected in this year’s unprecedented climate but with the evidence presented, revitalization is possible. And now I ask this year’s class of 2021, with graduation around the corner and our whole lives spread out in front of us, what moments are you going to remember? 

Surely we will hold in our hearts the friends and families who’ve been so deeply affected by this heinous virus but will our memory retain any positive moments. Small snippets in a world erupted in chaos and desolation that remind us that there is hope for a better tomorrow and life as we know it can return. I myself, know it can but we as a school, as a community have to take the first step.