Will There be a 2021 Graduation and Prom?

As this remote school year slowly comes to an end, seniors are asking one thing: What will happen with their graduation and prom? Senior year is supposed to be the last and most memorable year in high school, but this year, many events were cancelled because of COVID restrictions and safety regulations. Graduation and prom are two main events that most high schoolers look forward to as soon as they enter as freshman. Is there hope for seniors to have a “normal” high school goodbye? 

“This year I really hope there is a prom and a graduation because this graduating class has probably had the worst senior year ever,” said senior Matteo Zacco. “We’ve all just been so isolated from each other and it’s hard staying home all day sitting there and learning everything through a screen.”

Fellow senior Nicole Mordukhaev agreed.

“After a long hard year of online school and not being able to see some of our friends and school faculty members, an end of the year prom and graduation would be delightful and wholesome,” Mordukhaev said.

Last year, the 2020 graduation was pre-recorded and sent out for the seniors to watch. This year, it is confirmed that the 2021 graduation will be very different. Governor Cuomo recently announced that outdoor graduations will be allowed at a reduced capacity. Events like these will be allowed if the participants follow the protocols of social distancing and wearing a mask. 

“We are having an in person outdoor graduation in the school field,” Dr. Marmor, principal of Francis Lewis High School, said. “It is certainly not going to look typical and we are going to have to follow the NYC guidelines for event meetings.”

Francis Lewis will host multiple ceremonies in order for all students to have a chance to attend graduation. Due to frequent changes to announced regulations, it is unclear how many people will be allowed at one ceremony. As of now, Cuomo announced that attendance for outdoor graduations can be up to 500 people. There are about 1,000 seniors in the graduation class. According to Dr. Marmor, it’s too early to tell if students will be able to invite family members to see them graduate. If family members don’t have the chance to watch the graduation in person, there will be a live stream available for them to watch from home. 

“The decision on whether the parents can come watch is up to what the capacity rules are. If the capacity rules are very low, we will not be able to invite spectators,” said Dr. Marmor. “If the capacity rules are a little higher, then we may allow people to be able to bring one or maybe two people but we have to wait for that decision.”

While graduations may be allowed, there are no plans to have proms in the spring. This is due to the fact that proms include high risk activities for COVID exposure, including eating and drinking. Some students expressed dismay over this announcement.

“I would feel comfortable attending an in person prom … because I feel everyone is responsible and with proper COVID regulations I wouldn’t have any sort of fear of getting sick,” Zacco said. “I do feel it’s safe … as long as everyone is responsible and follows all rules set in place.”

Although schools cannot host a prom, this won’t stop students from hosting their own celebrations. Some seniors plan to gather friends to commemorate their high school experience and close this chapter of their lives.

“If the school doesn’t have a prom, me and my close friends will celebrate on our own, we plan to rent our own house for a short vacation, but only if there isn’t a prom,” said Tyler Reilly, a senior. “Either way, I’m excited to look back at the past four years and what I’ve accomplished.”