The current plans for senior celebrations with COVID-19 restrictions.
BY JOSIE STEWART, ‘21.
On Feb. 12, the Upper Arlington School District announced that students in the school-based pathway will return to school five-days-a-week starting March 1.
This switch comes after the vaccination of teachers in the previous weeks as well as a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County. Since leaving school in March of last year, this will be the first time that students will enter the building for the entire week since the beginning of the pandemic.
With this switch, many questions about the changes in scheduling, staffing and safety precautions also came with questions from students about the planning of certain end of year celebrations. Last year, the Class of 2020 did not have a graduation ceremony and instead, the high school hosted a parade around the building to keep a more socially distanced ceremony.
This year, though, since students are returning to the building, many seniors are hoping to have an in-person graduation ceremony. Planning for this possibility began a few weeks ago in a meeting with administrators, class officers and senior representatives from student council and Ambassadors of Change.
Senior and Student Council representative Thomas Wolfe attended the meeting and emphasized the wish to have the entire senior class together in one ceremony.
“[If I were to plan graduation], I would choose to do something at a different venue [than the Schottenstein Center], but hopefully we can still have everyone together as a class,” he said. “If we want to do something outside, I think any venue where we can see all of our classmates would be good.”
Although the ceremony is typically held at the Schottenstein, a decision has been made to now prioritize having it at the high school, likely at the Marv Moorehead Stadium. This includes having the entire Class of 2021 and having students walk across the stage to receive their diploma.
Similarly to graduation, the possibility of prom has also been mentioned since it was also cancelled last year. So far, plans are in the preliminary stages.
“We can’t promise everything since we don’t know what is going to happen, but as of right now we are most likely going to have prom,” junior class officer Kendall Crotty said. “We’re now in the stages of picking a date. We have a venue—no matter what it’s going to be at the school because we can’t really go anywhere with COVID-19. There are so many areas and it’s easier for social distancing. No matter what, everyone is going to have to wear a mask.”
The dance at the school may include spreading students out among the cafeteria, varsity gym and auditorium lobby as well as holding the event at the Marv.
“Since we have a fairly large budget this year since we’re not doing dinners, we want to do two themes since we will have different areas,” Crotty said. “We wanted to do a ball, fancy, royal [theme] and a Roaring ‘20s theme. Since [the Roaring ‘20s] was supposed to be the theme last year, we wanted to bring that back.”
The planning group, made up mostly of junior and senior class officers along with adviser Mark Boesch, is working to get a date in the last week or weekend of school approved. This is to ensure that the event would be as safe as possible and in hopes that more students or faculty members will be vaccinated by this time.
Also in accordance with safety, administration is considering making the dance limited to only the senior class since they were unable to go the previous year.
“Nothing is for sure for prom,” Crotty said. “We’re just trying to figure it out the best we can and if we can’t have an in-person prom, our back up plan is to have a drive-in movie theater prom.”
Even with this, Wolfe believes that the in-person dance wouldn’t be the same due to changes in the pandemic.
“It’s not really going to be prom with whatever they try to do. It’d be something, but I can’t think of any sort of experience that would parallel what prom is,” he said.
Similarly, senior Lindsey Hjelle hopes to prioritize graduation over the dance.
“I don’t really care about prom. I would hope for graduation, but if they can’t have it, that would be fine,” Hjelle said. “If it’s safe, I think we should at least have graduation but prom is more [up] in the air.”