In a year without Prom, seniors plan their own


Courtesy of Luke Lung

Posing with their prom dates, senior Luke Lung and his friends celebrate planning their own prom. The group dined, danced and sung during the night. “My favorite moment of the night probably had to have been when we did karaoke. Everyone in the group has amazing voices and we had a blast singing and just enjoying the night,” Lung said.

Glamorous floor-length dresses, laundered tuxedos and limousines have all come to be staples for a high school rite of passage: Prom. Prom dates back to the 1900s, becoming more extravagant in the 50s and nearing what we see today. Movies like 10 Things I Hate About You and Grease have only increased the notoriety of this event in the high school experience. Unfortunately, due to restrictions caused by COVID-19, an official school Prom has been canceled. 

“I think we all wish we could have had a school-sponsored Prom. Everybody has missed out on a lot, in particular the kids, over the last year and couple of months,” activities director Brian Kessler said. “The district made the decision that we weren’t going to have school-sponsored Proms this year. It’s unfortunate.”

Disappointed by the district’s decision, students such as seniors Carly Kuehl, Luke Lung and Gabrielle Oliver decided to plan their own to continue the high school tradition. 

“When they canceled Prom, I was like okay, at least I have my boyfriend’s, [but] then they canceled his. I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ Everything has been ripped away from us this year, and West wasn’t even apologetic,” Oliver said. “I was really mad. My mom was like, ‘Don’t be mad. Do something about it.’”

Oliver then decided to begin planning her own Prom. Unlike Kuehl and Oliver who are hosting exclusively seniors, Lung decided to host a Prom for everyone in his group including sophomores and juniors.

“I have a group of close friends and all of us were crushed that we weren’t going to have a Prom. The seniors didn’t have a Prom last year and weren’t having a Prom this year, so we had to take it into our own hands to plan one,” Lung said.

While Lung has elected to have a smaller, couple-themed Prom taking place at a friend’s house, Kuehl and Oliver have chosen larger venues at Forest Hills and Norwood Country Clubs.

We will forever be the class [that] never got to have a high school Prom. I’ve looked forward to junior and senior Prom since I was in middle school, and just like that, it was taken away from all of us. I’ve come to realize that it’s not the end of the world, but it’s just extremely disappointing.”

— Carly Kuehl

“My family [and I] are members at Forest Hills Country Club, and they have events there for members. My mom jumped on it right away to reserve a spot for us. [She] and I had a meeting with the event planner to talk about colors, food, music, flowers. We got to take a tour of the room and get a feel for how the Prom would look like. [We] have worked together in creating a color scheme and invitations, [and] have been working on getting decorations. My mom will be making the flower centerpieces,” Kuehl said.

Both Kuehl and Oliver have taken on planning their respective events with event planners at their venues, whereas Lung and his group are planning their Prom together.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve planned anything alone. The group has planned where we’re eating dinner. The boys have already asked the girls out [by] making posters, poems and all things of that nature. We have planned where the after-party is going to be. The girls have all gotten their dresses, and the boys have all gotten their suits and tuxes,” Lung said.

In the place of Prom, the school is offered senior day on April 24, which was an opportunity for seniors to get involved in activities like spikeball, cornhole, painting parking spots, pickleball and a staff vs. student kickball game.

“We’re just trying to make sure [senior day] is organized and have a great event for the kids. [Make sure that senior day is] a memory that is a good one because certainly, the last year has been a lot of cancellations. It’s been nice to add something to their schedule instead of removing something from [it],” Kessler said. 

Even though she’s creating her own Prom, Kuehl still feels disappointed that she cannot experience this event.

“Us seniors not only got one Prom taken away from us last year, but we got it taken away from us this year. We will forever be the class [that] never got to have a high school Prom. It seems so unfair,” Kuehl said. “I’ve looked forward to junior and senior Prom since I was in middle school, and just like that, it was taken away from all of us. I’ve come to realize that it’s not the end of the world, but it’s just extremely disappointing.”

Although there has been much taken from the seniors this year, Kuehl, Lung and Oliver have all found a way to experience this high school tradition.

“[COVID-19] has definitely made this year one I will never forget. At this point, it just seems like the new normal,” Kuehl said. “I’ve had a pretty good year so far. I led my volleyball team to second in State, I have been able to watch my brother and his friends play football, basketball and baseball, I have had a makeshift homecoming, and am [now] going to have a makeshift Prom. I’ve had a year filled with amazing memories and I wouldn’t trade any of these things for the world.”