Westminster seniors anticipate prom and graduation

There are no greater hallmarks of the American high school experience than the junior and senior proms and graduation, annual events that students all across the country anticipate attending. These events are recognized as important rites of passage for adolescents, with prom introducing them to important social skills required in adulthood and high school graduation marking the start of their journey toward, in many cases, college and a successful career. In an effort to reduce the potential cases of COVID-19 on campus, however, Westminster administrators made the decision to host a prom for only seniors.

“In terms of maintaining COVID protocols and social distancing, having [the juniors at prom] was, unfortunately, not an option,” said head of Upper School Cindy Trask. “We’re really hoping that next year, things will be much more normal, so that the juniors will have a full-fledged experience at prom.”

Numerous juniors expressed their disappointment over their inability to attend prom. “I’m a little bummed because I was really looking forward to [prom] the past couple of years,” said junior Diane Chen. “But I think [Westminster] made the right decision to cancel it.”

On a brighter note, administrators have confirmed that the current seniors will be having their prom this year. 

“It takes a lot of time and thought to organize an event with COVID in mind,” said Trask. “But to me, making [prom] available to seniors was a very high priority.”

Trask went on to note that the decision to have the senior prom this year was largely influenced by the cancellation of prom last year. Amid the sudden lockdowns and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic last spring, facilitating the prom for the classes of 2020 and 2021 proved too difficult to follow through with. 

“The class of 2021 had no experience with prom as juniors,” said Trask. “Because of that, we are really focused on creating the best possible experience for them this year.”

Under normal circumstances, the senior prom would have been planned by the junior student government, as it traditionally has been in the past. However, due to the juniors not being able to attend prom this year, the senior student government will plan prom instead. 

“Everyone is happy that we’re at least able to do something,” said senior class president Ryan Hockstein. “We weren’t really sure [whether we would have prom at all], so we’re glad the school is going to let us put something together.”

Hockstein noted that in order to keep the Westminster community safe and healthy, seniors will be expected to adhere to COVID-19 protocols during prom, such as mask wearing and social distancing. Additionally, the celebration will be held completely outdoors to mitigate the risk of transmission.

“I’m happy that [the seniors] will be able to do one last thing as a grade before graduation,” said Hockstein.

Further details concerning this year’s prom, including the theme, will be announced by the senior prom planning committee in March, and the prom is scheduled to take place on May 15, 2021.

Another event quickly approaching for seniors is high school graduation. In less than 100 days, the class of 2021 will walk down the steps of Pressly Hall with diplomas and Bibles in hand, anticipating two months of summer vacation before they head off to college in the fall. In the past, Westminster commencement ceremonies have included notable speakers such as Atlanta United president Darren Eales, and Upper School administrators have confirmed that there will be a surprise guest speaker for this year’s ceremony as well.

Full details about graduation, including scheduling and special events, can be found on the Wildcat Web under the tab Celebrating the Class of 2021

“Prom and graduation are very special events for the seniors,” said Trask. “Making them available to this year’s graduating class is so important—they’re a big part of Westminster’s senior traditions.”