Students, ASB explore alternative prom options

Prom is the iconic capstone on the quintessential American high school experience that has been glamorized in every form of media, including television, film, and books. However, because of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent implementation of social distancing measures, proms across the nation have been cancelled, much to the dismay of many high schoolers. 

Shaina Butler (11), related to these feelings of disappointment, as prom had been glamorized for her by Disney movies, her sister, and numerous friends. 

“I have looked forward to prom since I was younger,” Butler said. “I watch a lot of Disney movies and they play up prom to be this amazing event. My sister would tell me about the fun experiences she had. My senior friends, for the most part, all said how much fun it is, and encouraged me to go.”

Originally, Butler had planned to go to prom with some of her senior friends on a party bus before the dance. They also planned to have dinner and take photos together. She said she had also looked forward to picking out her prom dress with her sister. 

After having made so many preparations, Butler was disappointed to learn that prom had been cancelled. 

“I initially thought this whole pandemic would be over before prom, so even though I was disappointed about everything else that was canceled prior to the dance, I didn’t expect the dance to be canceled as well, at the beginning,” she said.

Thus, Butler said she was delighted to learn that actor and filmmaker John Krasinski was hosting a virtual prom through his web series, Some Good News (SGN), which he began in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. She first learned about SGN’s Prom through John Krasinski’s Instagram and attended the dance—virtually—on April 17.

She then made preparations to watch the SGN livestream on YouTube with her friend Miah Fernandez (11), and they both decided to wear casual clothing with make-up, and then sat back and enjoyed the livestream.

“The actual livestream was so much fun,” Butler said. “Since I watched The Office, I got really excited when Rainn Wilson joined the live stream. We sang along when the Jonas Brothers performed ‘Sucker’ and we had a lot of fun when Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell performed  ‘Bad Guy.’ It was really a unique experience and it definitely was great to watch live.”

Butler said that, while it wasn’t what she had anticipated, this made for a memorable prom experience that she could talk about for many years. 

“I would say watching the live stream was just as fun as an actual prom could’ve been, if not better,” Butler said.“I mean, who else could say that they had John Krasinski host their prom and had such incredible celebrity guests? It made me feel a lot better knowing that there are people who could come together and do something this special for students all around the world to enjoy.

After the initial cancellation of Westview’s Prom, junior class presidents Brian Chander (11) and Brooke Gorman (11) discussed alternatives extensively with the rest of ASB’s executive board and their adviser, Shannon Parker. 

“We discussed pushing the dance to summer, but because we don’t know what our restrictions will be, we don’t want to leave the student body hoping for something that may not come,” Gorman said. “We also considered having a drive-in event at Westview, but we knew that enforcing the six-feet rule and working with law enforcement would not be possible. We also considered having students send in videos of them in their prom attire, but we did not see a large amount of people participating.”

Additionally, there were numerous reasons why ASB and the administration decided not to host an online prom. 

“Recently, CASL, a leadership organization, hosted a dance through Zoom and it did not turn out well,” Gorman said. “Not only would we have to consider hackers, and how to monitor people’s screens, but we would also have to take into account how many students would participate.”

Ultimately, they decided that the best solution would be to allow seniors to vote on their Prom Court through Google Forms and post a video of the Court, with an address from Gorman and Chander, on the original Prom Day, which will be tomorrow. They also decided to release a playlist on Prom Day curated by the student body and encourage students to post photos and videos on their Instagram stories of their favorite memories at Westview. 

Moving forward, ASB has chosen to concentrate on the future and the upcoming school year, in order to promote class unity and facilitate school spirit. 

“As much as we want to give students a dance and the experience they deserve, considering logistics and guidelines we have to follow, making up for the dance in a significant way is just not possible,” Gorman said. “We have begun focusing our efforts towards maintaining connections within the student body and towards the upcoming year to hopefully make up for the time that has been lost.”

Considering the likelihood that prom this year will be cancelled permanently, rather than postponed to the summer, Butler suggested that other high school students could try to enjoy prom in a different way by making it their own. 

“All I have to say is that it isn’t the end of the world,” Butler said. “You can have a similar experience at home with your family or friends virtually. It’s not about the where or the why, but it’s who you spend it with, and what you make out of the time you have. Do whatever you want, as long as it is fun and memorable, and it’ll still be something special.”