Proms offer a night to remember in COVID year

Notre Dame and Knoxville Catholic high school events give seniors a chance to dress up and celebrate          

By Emily Booker

Prom. The end-of-year formal that high school rom-coms are made of.

For many students, it is a highlight of high school, a night of fancy clothes, music, and friends, celebrating their journey together as a class—a last hoorah before graduation.

Like so many events and traditions, prom was affected by COVID-19 in 2020, turned into mini-virtual events or canceled completely.

Notre Dame’s George Fillauer attends the prom with Riley McCormick.

After last year’s proms were canceled, students at Notre Dame High School and Knoxville Catholic High School were eager for this year’s prom and a night to dress up, gather, and return to some normalcy.

For many seniors, this year was full of unpredictability. Learning that they were able to have prom and celebrate together was a highlight of the year.

“I understand why we couldn’t have it [last year]. There was a good reason why we couldn’t have it, but this year, I’m just glad we get one prom so we can do it before we leave,” Marissa Krukowski of Notre Dame said.

“I was upset when I heard prom and other events would be canceled, but I was thankful that it was my junior prom rather than senior. I had also gotten a dress that I was super excited to wear, so that made me even more sad,” Cecelia Kirk of KCHS said. “I was super excited to finally wear my dress that had sat in my closet for over a year and spend quality time with my friends.”

“I was thrilled we got to have a prom this year. Many of my friends and I joked that it was our first, best, and last prom. It felt great to return to some kind of normalcy after all the chaos that the pandemic has thrown upon our senior year,” Amelia Rechter of KCHS said.

NDHS’s prom was held May 14 with the theme “Casino Royale.”

KCHS’ prom was held May 15 with the theme “Night Under the Stars.”

‘I was thrilled we got to have a prom this year’ Sydney Mesmer enjoys the Knoxville Catholic High School prom.

Students shared what they enjoyed most about prom.

“I’m excited to get ready with my friends and spend time with them, just celebrate getting to the end of senior year, because this time is so stressful with preparing for exams. This time is a nice night just to get a break and have fun,” Marissa said.

“I enjoyed dancing and singing along to songs with my close friends and peers,” Cecelia said.

“We got to choose the songs this year, and they created a huge playlist this year,” Carson Chepul of NDHS said.

“It’s one last gathering, one last shebang,” said Adam Desai of NDHS.

“The thing I enjoyed most about prom was just seeing everyone all dressed up. We never really get to see each other that way, and it was cool to see it for once,” said Perla Ortega of KCHS.

Both schools had some COVID-19 restrictions at prom. NDHS required masks in indoor spaces, but students could remove masks outside. KCHS held the prom on the football field so that masks would not be necessary.

“I believe that we were able to have such few restrictions at prom because of how well Catholic has handled the pandemic in previous months. Most of my friends, including myself, have been vaccinated, and since the prom was outside, we chose not to wear masks,” Amelia said.

For those who did choose to wear masks, they provided an extra fashion opportunity.

“I sent some fabric somewhere and got a mask made. So, some of us were definitely trying to color coordinate,” Morgan Hicks of NDHS said.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions and online learning, students missed out on lots of events and large gatherings over the past year.

Students (from left) Rafa Lee, Emma Sofia Griffen, Elisa Alvarado, and CJ Petrin attend the Notre Dame High School prom.

“Even football or events that are normally large, we haven’t had, like prep rallies or things like that,” Fran Palacios of NDHS explained.

That made being together at prom all the more important.

“I’m looking forward to gathering with my friends and classmates one last time, just to celebrate getting to the end of senior year of high school and have a great night,” he said.

“COVID has forced me to make some new friends, and I’m definitely excited to go out of my comfort zone and hang out with those friends outside of school. I haven’t really had the opportunity because of all the COVID restrictions and everything. So I’m really excited to get to know the friends I’m making and to really get together with my class for the last time before we all graduate,” Morgan said.

Like any prom, it was a night to dress up, party with friends, and celebrate the end of high school. For a class that faced a pandemic that interrupted so much of their junior and senior year, prom was an even bigger event—a celebration of survival and the hope of a return to normal.

On top of an incredibly memorable year, it was a night to remember.

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