Longtime rite of passages for some high school students — prom and graduation ceremonies — will continue this year at area schools.
Last year, these kind of in-person events were cancelled as public health agencies tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus in communities. Some schools held graduations virtually and even organized celebratory drive-bys to acknowledge the achievement.
This year, some area districts have revealed they will hold both prom and in-person graduation ceremonies for their seniors that will follow guidelines set forth by the Ohio Department of Health.
The state revised guidelines for the events, citing the need for touchless ticketing, and signage reinforcing safety requirements including mandatory masks and social distancing are recommended for both events. Outdoor events are preferred but if the event is held indoors the state health department recommends maximizing ventilation leaving doors and windows open.
Prom and graduation will look different.
During prom, students can be seated in groups of 10 with six feet of social distancing. Students will be required to wear masks when dancing. At commencement ceremonies, students and staff are to remain three feet away from each other and guests should maintain six feet of social distancing. Other recommendations include sanitizing stations at the entrance of venues and provide one-way traffic through walkways when possible.
“We can do about anything we want to do. It’s just how we do it,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during a recent press conference.
Vandalia Butler, Troy, Northmont, Trotwood and Springboro schools, among others in the Dayton area, have plans for a prom including dancing, red carpet and the crowning of king and queen. Springboro has limited its prom to seniors and it will not include an After Prom. Some schools will not allow students from other schools to attend, but Springboro seniors are allowed to bring a guest from the school or a different district.
Vandalia will hold its graduation for its seniors on May 24 in a single ceremony.
“With nearly three grading periods of in-person learning and extracurricular activities under our belts, we have many experiences to build upon this year to inform our planning for these events. All year long, our goal has been to be safe, logical, consistent, and normal,” said Vandalia superintendent Rob O’Leary.
For the seniors at Northmont High School, prom will be held this Saturday with a dinner and dance but without outside guests or juniors. Jenny Wood, the districts information officer, said the juniors are allowed to participate in after prom activities.
“I feel really happy that we are able to have these events. It is a great way to have fun before we graduate,” said salutatorian candidate and Northmont High School senior Sydney Ayton.
For Ayton, graduation fulfils a TV inspired fantasy. “I am looking forward to graduation when we move our tassels from right to left. I have seen it so many times in movies and TV shows and I can’t wait to do it myself,” she said.
Unlike last year, seniors will have the chance to walk the stage with their peers for their families to see in person. While the district is still unsure as to what the ceremony will look like, the students will be allowed four tickets for guests.
“I was hopeful for a graduation and a prom, but I didn’t think that we’d be able to have them,” said Amarachukwu Nwanoro senior and valedictorian candidate at Northmont High School. “Now that I know that they’ll happen I feel like my very abnormal senior year could at least have some normalcy. I’ll still be able to have some of the typical senior experiences and I’m pretty excited about it.”
At Beavercreek, prom will be held May 8 on the football field and students must wear masks when dancing in small groups. Graduation for the students are being held at the Nutter Center on May 24 and May 27 to abide by social distancing orders. Parents are able to choose which day they would like to attend.
Trotwood-Madison High School will also have graduation and prom in May that abides by the preventative measures set in place by ODH. Superintendent Reva Cosby said it’s important to give the students something they can remember and establishes some form of normalcy, of course while being safe.
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