Cancelled prom gives way to privately hosted events

by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief

Campus administration has announced there will be no prom for the 2021 school year.

“All spring we’ve been trying to find a place to hold the number of people, fit all the safety criteria that exists locally in Bexar county and NEISD, and it’s finally gotten to that point where there is nowhere,” Principal Gary Comalander said. “Even if we can find somewhere, it doesn’t fit in with the safety rules, or they don’t have availability.”

While a smaller, more locally hosted prom was considered by the school, the idea was ultimately scrapped over concerns of attendance. 

“When you say ‘something small,’ it’s still going to be a thousand people,” Comalander said. “Unless people don’t come, if everybody shows up, you’re talking about 800 plus kids and another hundred volunteers and helpers. You’re still pushing between 800 and 1000 people, and that’s if you just do the seniors. It’s pretty difficult to social distance even on a football field, much less in a ballroom.”

Though a number of students were certainly disappointed, that did not stop them from carrying on this high school tradition in their own way.

“In like probably mid-March I realized that we weren’t going to have a prom and I knew I wanted to do something with my friends because it’s something I’d been looking forward to,” junior Hannah Murphy said. “I was like ‘let me invite a couple of people over,’ and we did this prom thing. We decorated my house with a theme we picked, [which] was 1940s Hollywood, and it was all rose gold and we came and wore pretty dresses and just had a girls night. We got pictures done and it was really just fun and low-key, just to be able to do something fun while being dressed-up and trying to make prom still happen.”

Even while hosting a small, private night in her home, Murphy said they still heeded public health precautions.

“My parents were pretty supportive. They knew that doing a prom thing was very important to me,” Murphy said. “It was more trying to make sure everyone’s family was okay with, assuming you’re talking about COVID, okay with what we’re doing. Some parents were fine with their children coming over, but they didn’t want any of us to go out and eat somewhere. We tried not going anywhere near people other than just us. It was just very small inside and outside my house.”

Aside from just students, parents and other event organizers in the community have come together to plan privately hosted proms. To date, MyJagNews knows of three such privately hosted proms in the area.

“I understand. I do get it. I really hope and pray that people are safe and make good decisions and take care of themselves if they’re choosing to do something like that,” Comalander said. “I think anytime you start getting involved in the hundreds of people gathering in the same place, it’s fairly difficult. I’m not sure everybody is aware of what it takes to put on an event. It’s not like having 30 people over at your house to have a get together. When you have hundreds of people showing up to something, there’s a lot of things that can happen.”

Though none of these events are affiliated with any school, they still serve a wide variety of students within the Stone Oak area. 

“A group of parents who have seniors at Reagan High School had heard there was not going to be anything this spring as far as the dance,” private prom organizer Melinda Preator said. “Because of COVID, last year prom didn’t happen. In the fall, homecoming didn’t happen. So we just decided, since our kids didn’t have the opportunity to have one more dance before they go to college, to plan one as parents.”

Before attending, students are encouraged to see what safety measures are being put in place in response to not only the spread of COVID-19, but also in terms of security and liability coverage in the event a student is injured during attendance. 

“We’re just offering a choice. Anyone can choose to come or not to come. The thing is, if there are kids and parents who want to have this opportunity, that’s why we’re doing this,” private prom organizer Mark Preator said. “It’s certainly not easy and we certainly have concerns of our own as parents, the same type of concerns any administrator would have when putting on that sort of event. People are going to make their choices. We’re really excited about it and the people who signed up are really excited about it.”

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About The Author

Joseph Sweeney is a junior entering his fourth year as a student journalist. He now serves as the editor-in-chief of My Jag News and has also started working with Jag TV. When not in school, Sweeney can typically be found taking orders at the nearby Burger King.

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