The Prom-lem

Widespread disappointment throughout the school due to the second cancellation of prom

Like many students in the FHC community, junior class treasurer Sarah Percy was distraught with the outcome of this year’s fight for prom. 

“When the news came out that prom wasn’t happening,I was devastated, I remember when we were all sitting in the room with Mrs. Dennigmann when they told us. And I remember questioning ‘why?’ We couldn’t understand why we couldn’t give the seniors anything, not even the memory of a prom,” Percy said.

For many high school students, prom is a rite of passage. This annual event is something that has been popularized by students because it’s their time to celebrate. It’s a milestone that many generations have gotten to enjoy, and this year, the tradition has been broken. Due to COVID-19, plans have been cancelled and prom will not be happening with safety issues concerning the spread of the pandemic. 

This decision wasn’t made lightly, though. The sponsor of the junior class officers Stacey Dennigmann says the superintendent had the final say, not the principals.

“After considering all viable options the principals met with Dr. [Nathan] Hoven, the superintendent, they shared their recommendations and ultimately Dr. Hoven made the official decision to cancel prom,” Mrs. Dennigmann said. 

Prom is one of those things you grow up around, watching your favorite TV stars or seeing old pictures of family members having a great time at prom”

— Connor Phillips

According to Percy, the outcome wasn’t ideal despite many suggestions on another way to celebrate.

“Obviously prom being cancelled is not ideal for anyone, especially the seniors, but the Francis Howell administration didn’t see any way they could safely hold a prom for everyone,” Percy said.

The school district was required to follow the St. Charles County Health Department safety guidelines for prom, which after review did not seem plausible.

“We would be required to socially distance at prom and be able to contact trace, requiring seating charts,” Mrs. Dennigmann said. “But, contact tracing would be impossible to do if our students were dancing… So it was decided we would not be able to have dancing at our prom.”

Overall, the regular sit down dinner in the St. Charles Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom would not be as fun as a regular prom since there is so much under scrutiny when planning such a complicated event in this circumstance.

“How would students react if the number of tickets allowed to be sold would not allow the entire senior class to attend, or even less than 75 percent of the senior class to attend? What if you didn’t get a table with your friend group? Would you stay at your table and only your table the entire time? The administration team believed that students would not enjoy themselves in such a restrictive environment,” Mrs. Dennigmann said.

Many ideas were pitched by Mrs. Dennigmann according to Percy, but none were considered safe enough for the students.

“She provided them with many alternatives such as a socially distanced picnic on the football fields or a contact traced sit down dinner, but in the end, they decided that none of our available options could be safely executed.” Percy said. 

Since many of the options Mrs. Dennigmann had pitched were outside for safety, weather also became another factor in the decision.

“Whenever you hold an outside event the weather is always a deciding factor,” Mrs. Dennigmann said. “Traditionally spring in Missouri is very wet and rainy.”

Even though most students understand that this pandemic precedes prom, it is still a disappointment because they have been waiting so long for this special night. Senior Kami Eslinger agrees that although this cancellation was upsetting, being under the circumstances we are in, the ends justify the means.

“Of course I’m still disappointed that I will never get to really experience prom, but considering the circumstances, I think it’s 100 percent understandable,” Eslinger said.

For Eslinger, prom being cancelled was more disappointing than when homecoming was cancelled earlier this year. The timing was so imperfect that seniors now will never get a proper prom.

“I think it was for sure more of a disappointment than homecoming because I was able to attend homecoming but prom was something I never got to experience both my junior and senior year,” Eslinger said.

Yet, another aspect of prom is the exclusivity of the event, since it is for upperclassmen generally which makes this cancellation even more frustrating for senior Connor Phillips

“Homecoming is one of those things everyone goes to, while prom is very exclusive, it means more especially since it’s made just for upperclassmen,” Phillips said. “It’s more rewarding in another sense.”

But for Phillips, the disappointment stemmed from the break in the chain of a long tradition of prom dances. Prom was more than a dance, it was tradition.

“Prom is one of those things you grow up around, watching your favorite TV stars or seeing old pictures of family members having a great time at prom, ” Phillips said. “It’s the traditional aspect that we don’t get to carry on.”

How would students react if the number of tickets allowed to be sold would not allow the entire senior class to attend, or even less than 75 percent of the senior class to attend? What if you didn’t get a table with your friend group? Would you stay at your table and only your table the entire time?”

— Mrs. Dennigmann

For Phillips, the most frustrating part is knowing that in future years other students will get to pick up where they left off, while the class of 2021 will not get the gratification of a prom.

“Being a senior, I was never given the opportunity whereas my fellow upperclassmen and lowerclassmen get to salvage one year,” Phillips said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

However, seniors such as Eslinger and Phillips still are planning to make the best out of the situation, through making the infamous “prom pictures” more “COVID-friendly” by keeping large gatherings to a minimum. 

“I thought dressing up with a small group of friends and taking pictures while following the COVID restrictions guidelines would be a fun way to have a ‘prom feel’ while being safe,” Eslinger said.

Percy suggests that seniors take part in one of the activities that were pitched to the district that was meant to replace prom.

“Of course the seniors can always do something on their own like a picnic or a drive in movie, but COVID is a thing that we should all still remember and be aware of,” Percy said. “Hopefully, next year we can have a more normal prom for everyone and finally get back to our usual senior festivities.”