The discussions about prom began just after winter break and it was decided, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event would only be a dance this year. In years past prom entailed a highly attended walk-in, supper for all the students and a dancing portion of the evening.
They still wanted to keep it formal and not host the dance at the school. They knew from the beginning that masks would be required.
As restrictions in the state eased so did some of the initial concern about prom. With prom being at the fair grounds and the easing of restrictions having a walk-in again became possible. This was a hot button topic for many students and parents, so people were happy with the change back to having a walk-in.
“Students in general were awesome about trying to find compromises to the whole situation because before the administration decided we were ok to have a walk-in they talked about doing a reverse walk-in around the square, kind of like the reverse parade where the students would park and stand beside their vehicles and people could drive by and see them,” said DeAnndra Blackford, Advisor of the Clarke Prom Committee. “For the most part they’ve been very understanding of the changes we’ve had to make. We would have liked to have seen more of a meal be served at prom this year but they’ve been ok with the compromise of just having snacks, and there was more food at after prom that than there usually would be.”
“We started working on prom stuff probably three or four months ago and decided on theme and once we had all that we could order the decorations,” said Shayla Hembry, Clarke junior who helped set up the decorations at the fair grounds events center. “I’m excited, a little nervous because I don’t know what to expect because last year was nothing and this is the first thing we’ve really had this year since we didn’t have a homecoming dance.”
Students began their promenade at the back of the fair grounds and walked up the grand concourse to the events center. There was no emcee this year at walk-in announcing names. Music was played over the rodeo arena speakers. The distance was longer than the traditional walk-in at Lakeside Casino but it gave spectators more space to socially distance. There were no attendance restrictions for families at walk-in.
“Having prom out at the fair grounds this year, part of that honestly was just the cost of being out at the Boat,” said Blackford. “This class wasn’t able to do a whole lot of fundraising last year obviously due to COVID. Even homecoming shirt sales were down, I would guess still related to COVID because we weren’t able to go to the elementary and sell in the building over there.”
Clarke juniors and seniors were the invited students and with the ease of COVID-19 restrictions students were permitted to bring underclassmen dates and dates from other school districts.
After prom, run by Clarke parents, was relatively the same as years past. It was hosted at the high school, the hours were 11 p.m.-5 a.m., there was a hypnotist, games and activities. More food that normal was served and masks were still required.