The class of 2020 had a pandemic-induced end to the school year. Virtual proms. Zoom or drive-thru graduations. But the class of 2021 hasn’t exactly had a picnic of a year, either! Social distancing is still a large concern. Most states require masks and COVID tests or vaccines for events. Some states continue to limit the size of large gatherings. What does that mean for our senior proms, graduation, and end-of-year events? Here are the many ways people are celebrating the class of 2021.
If we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that a lot of activities can move outdoors! Some schools are transforming their football fields or renting out local outdoor spaces like the zoo. One school in Philadelphia is encouraging girls to wear Crocs instead of stilettos. Whether indoors or outdoors, most schools are suggesting limited dancing, limited food, and mask-wearing by attendees.
Some venues are allowing for indoor proms with smaller amounts of attendees. In some states, like New York, students have to show proof of a completed vaccine series or negative COVID test. One way around this is by limiting attendance to less than 100-people indoors. Many schools are only allowing their high school seniors to attend and/or are not allowing guests from other schools. Another school requires students to form pods that they stick to throughout the dance.
For schools that are ditching the idea of prom altogether, some parents are banding together to make the dance a reality for their students. When an Atlanta school canceled prom for the second year in a row, a group of parents planned a prom, dubbed “the Mask-querade Dance,” to be hosted at the Atlanta Zoo on May 16.
End of Year Banquets
For students wrapping up a shortened season of sports or activities, many schools are hosting small end-of-year banquets to honor their seniors. These smaller events often allow a couple of family members to attend.
End of Year Concerts
As we reach the end of the year, many graduating seniors want their lat bit of time performing with friends. Washington High School is hosting an end-of-year concert with some COVID precautions in place. “We put an intermission in, it’s a shorter program, we’re doing less pieces than usual so we have that first half, put in intermission, 10-15 minutes, kind of let the air recirculate on stage and come on back out and do it again.”
Continuing the trend of last year, many schools are taking over their social media accounts with senior spotlights that share photos, accomplishments, and where students are headed next.
As the COVID cases lessen, some schools are considering in-person graduation for their seniors. Depending on the student population, some schools are splitting ceremonies up into smaller ones over the course of a day (or multiple days). Others are limiting guest attendance. Others are creating 10×10 spots in the football stands for families. And even others are live-streaming the students as they walk across the stage.
After the success and fun of last year’s drive-thru graduations in many areas, some schools are opting to repeat the process this year too—or at least offer it as an option along with in-person graduations.