In-person – but not too close – prom to be held in Concord

  • Concord High School seniors and their dates attend prom Thursday night at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, June 16, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 3/5/2021 1:55:26 PM

The Concord High School prom may be a “masked ball” this year but it’s happening, with the support of administrators and careful planning of student volunteers.

The Concord School Board meeting unanimously approved a plan this week for an in-person prom that was presented by CHS class of 2021 officers. The class officers developed the plan, which aims to keep the event as regulated as possible for COVID-19 safety.

“We have spent hours working through this plan as a team, as you can see by the setups we’ve put in all of the spaces,” said Niyanta Nepal, president of the class of 2021. “We are really hopeful and made it our top priority to make sure this is feasible and safe for anybody in the community.”

The plan takes the three core elements of CHS’s typical prom – the parade, the dining and the dancing – and adapts them to the COVID era.

The event will happen at Concord High School this year, instead of the usual Grappone Conference Center, which the class officers say allows for easier control of the space. Attendance will be limited only to CHS seniors and chaperones, with required masks and social distancing to discourage spread of the coronavirus. Guests and parents will not be allowed.

The usual prom parade, where students walk past crowds of family and friends in their tuxedos and gowns, will happen outside the high school building, and be livestreamed on ConcordTV. The district is still discussing whether or not to create roped off sections where parents can watch in person.

Employee chaperones will be screening students before they enter the event, checking names to make sure only Concord High seniors are in attendance, taking temperatures and asking about health symptoms.

Once inside, dining spaces will be spread across the third floor of both the East and West school buildings, with six-person tables spread throughout the area. Students will sit in pairs with the person they chose to attend prom with, six feet apart from other couples. There will be two food stations to prevent overcrowding.

After eating, the students will move to one of three dancing spaces: the gym, the student center, or the Commons A learning space, with a different DJ set in each space. No slow music will be played, to discourage close dancing.

A chaperone would be stationed in each room, monitoring the numbers of students present and making sure no room gets overcrowded. Three police officers and a nurse will be in attendance.

“This group has put so much time and effort and thought into how we can do this safely, I do feel very strongly that we will have no problem getting enough chaperones,” said Lisa Lamb, administrative assistant and senior class co-advisor. “Teachers – anyone in the building – wants to see these kids be able to celebrate their senior year.”

Much of the event’s success will ride on student willingness to comply with regulations.

To be allowed at prom, seniors must self-isolate and assess themselves for symptoms during the two weeks leading up to the event. Anyone who displays symptoms, has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or has traveled out-of-state during the 14 days prior to the event will not be allowed. Students and their parents will sign an acknowledgement form stating they will follow the expectations.

“Having a prom and regulating it in all the ways that we’re trying to do partially avoids kids trying to do it on their own and having big parties to try and supplement their own prom,” said Neil Shea, a class of 2021 representative. “In that way, I think we avoid having a bunch of people doing a prom before graduation that isn’t regulated.”

Despite the strict protocols, the class officers said students are already so excited about the possibility of a prom that some have already started shopping for dresses, even before the plan was approved.

“The idea of having a prom has already spread through CHS as a community,” said Aidan Gleason, vice president of the class of 2021. “This is the only thing they’ve had to look forward to this entire year, so the idea of having this is just sparking so much joy throughout the community.”

The students have also been talking about organizing a type of remote option for students who don’t feel comfortable attending in person due to the pandemic.

Principal Michael Reardon said the plan had his “complete support,” and interim Superintendent Kathleen Murphy agreed.

“I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that these four class officers have had,” Reardon said.

Prom is currently scheduled for June 17.

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