EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 4/6/21 — Parents of high school seniors who are in the El Dorado School District are taking action to make sure the pandemic doesn’t take away all of the traditional senior moments.
“My daughter text me and they had a senior meeting at school and she said there was no prom,” Monique Woods said. “I was almost in tears because this is what the kids work so hard for to be able to have memories like this.”
Woods’s daughter, Zaria Brown, had also been looking forward to having a prom. She says students experienced a range of emotions all in one week. One day the seniors learned they wouldn’t have prom and then just days later that changed quickly.
“We were all sad because it’s our last year and we want to have a fun year and end it on a good note but now we’re doing it and we’re just trying to have fun as the parents come together and do it for us,” Brown said.
Brown’s mom was one of several parents who joined together to do something special for the seniors.
The El Dorado High School announced it wouldn’t be able to host the prom because it was still following its Ready for Learning Plan that was sent in to the Arkansas Department of Education at the beginning of the school year.
There are several school districts in the region that are planning to host a prom including: Junction City School District, Crossett School District, Smackover-Norphlet School District, Strong-Huttig School District, Camden Fairview School District and Parkers Chapel District whose prom will be held this weekend.
High school principals at Junction City and Crossett both say Governor Hutchinson’s recent announcement to allow districts to make its own policies influenced their decision to go ahead with prom. Though, the governor’s update didn’t sway the El Dorado High School’s plans.
Instead of a prom, the school will have a socially distanced senior banquet that has been set for May 1. Throughout the school year, this senior class has missed out on all of the traditional events like its homecoming parade, sweetheart dance, academic signing day and pep rallies.
Hill believes there will be a greater opportunity to keep kids six feet apart at a banquet than at the prom.
“If we followed our Ready for Learning plan guidelines and rules with social distancing and masks we wouldn’t be able to have a normal and typical prom like I remember from my prom days. They wouldn’t be able to slow dance. They would have to stay several feet apart. With a large school that would be impossible to do,” EHS Principal, Sherry Hill said.
“We would not want to do anything that would potentially risk having an outbreak or having kids having to quarantine. That May 1st to May 17th isn’t very long. We don’t want to do anything to risk graduation being postponed.”
Hill has received mixed opinions from parents about prom. She says there have been many parents that have reached out to her concerned about a prom and how safety guidelines would be in place.
“We have a group of parents who are concerned about their kids being in a school and how it would create a potential to contract the covid virus so those parents in particular have been very adamant about us not having a prom. They didn’t think we should have anything that would put kids more at risk in coming in contact with each other than they have to be,” she said.
Hill says the senior banquet will be a formal event with “linen table cloths and a nice dinner and real plates and glasses and all.”
There will be a personalized memento that the kids will get to take with them They’re kind of going to get a really spectacular evening with a nice dinner and a dance,” she said.
While parents don’t quite fully understand the high school’s reasoning in not being able to host a prom, they did say that staff have been very helpful in offering insight to how the event can be successful.
The prom will be held following the banquet. There will be a meeting next week to continue planning the prom. Plans have been confirmed yet but it’s something the students are looking forward to.
“We’re still in the process of getting everything together but we do have a décor committee,” Woods said. “Any local businesses that would like to contribute to the prom would be appreciated because we do plan on giving gift favors to the kids.”
Follow KTVE/KARD reporter Gabrielle Phifer for updates regarding this prom event and how you can get involved.