Opinion: Prom(ises) delivered?


Courtesy of Kelli Kalen

On April 24, the junior and senior prom took place in a tent set up in the Starr’s Mill faculty parking lot. The prom was divided into different locations unexpectedly due to a rainstorm that shoved all attendees and chaperones into the 600 hallway. The prom was definitely a night to remember between the poor weather conditions and the disregard for the mask mandate.

Last Saturday, Starr’s Mill held its much-anticipated prom. With hesitation, the classes of 2021 and 2022 got themselves cleaned up for a night that would hopefully shape up to be a night unlike any other. This hesitation was caused by the new rules surrounding prom. 

Over the last several months, COVID precautions had changed several long-held rules. For starters, guests from outside the Starr’s Mill class of 2021 and 2022 were not allowed due to concerns of contact tracing. 

[T]he end result of prom made these precautions arbitrary.”

— Guest Writer Jacob Maples

A mask mandate was also in place, which is understandable since classroom instruction also has a mask mandate. The last rule stated that prom would need to be held in a tent on school property. This stems from the thought that 300-600 students migrating to an indoor nightclub in Atlanta would offer more opportunities for COVID-19 exposure. 

While the student body struggled but ultimately accepted the rule changes, the end result of prom made these precautions arbitrary.

In the days leading up to prom, it seemed that rain and thunderstorms were imminent. With prom being outside in a canopy-style tent, it raised concerns about the durability and structure of the tent. 

I have seen instances of these types of outdoor tents not having the strength to hold the rain, thus collapsing on the party-goers. I raised my concerns to the sponsor for the junior class responsible for planning prom. 

The sponsor assured me that the tent would be durable based on the words from the tent supplier. I was also informed that Principal Allen Leonard had said that the worst of the storm was supposed to pass before the prom starts. Those in attendance know what happened next.

I raised my concerns to the sponsor for the junior class responsible for planning prom. ”

— Guest Writer Jacob Maples

I showed up to prom at 8:30 p.m., waiting for my group to arrive at the front gate. Then came Leonard, telling us that students would be sent inside due to severe weather. 

As I attempted to check-in, there were several students being sent away from the door because they were not wearing a mask. That being said, after entering the tent, one thing was evident: there was no enforcement of this mask mandate. By the end of the night, very few people sported their masks.

The approximately 100-200 prom attendees were escorted from the tent, which was in the faculty parking area, into the 600 hallway to get away from the storm. At this point, if prom was not allowed to be inside — I suggested an indoor prom to multiple sponsors and Mr. Leonard — then it seemed counterproductive to bring us inside. 

The rainstorms made an indoor move a necessity. What was not a necessity was where attendees were kept. Instead of utilizing places like the gym or the cafeteria, which offer much more room to socially distance and prevent COVID from spreading, the best plan the school had put in place was to cram all students into half of a hallway.

This plan packed students inside very tightly, which is not COVID safe. In fact, had a student been infected with COVID, this would have easily been a super spreader event. I spoke with multiple chaperones on the subject and asked if there was a “rainy day” plan. The students crammed into half of the hallway was the “rainy day” plan. 

I see no reason why another event at Starr’s Mill should be canceled, postponed, altered due to COVID safety precautions.”

— Guest Writer Jacob Maples

The gym would have been a much better suggestion, yet the administration insisted that this was a county-wide rule and nothing could be done. Other schools in the county, such as Sandy Creek High School and McIntosh High School, had indoor proms. 

After spending 45 minutes huddled closely with fellow students, we were finally allowed to go back out to the tent for the last hour and a half of prom. 

Prom as an event was not bad. It was successful due to the hard work thanks to the class of 2022 sponsors, officers, and executive board. 

With prom behind us and five more weeks of school left, the question I pose is what now? If mask mandates are ignored at prom, does that mean the in-class instruction mask mandate will now be ignored? Why can McIntosh and Sandy Creek have an indoor prom, yet Starr’s Mill cannot? 

Is it that we follow the rules blindly, or is it that administrative oversight lacked student perspective? If 100-200 students can be put tightly into a portion of a hallway for 45 minutes, I see no reason why another event at Starr’s Mill should be canceled, postponed, altered due to COVID safety precautions, whether that be the senior walk or graduation.

Opinions expressed in editorials are those of the writer(s).  These views may not represent the adviser, The Prowler, advertisers/sponsors, the Starr’s Mill High School administration or staff , or Fayette County Public Schools as a whole.  Please see our FAQs for more information pertaining to the rights of The Prowler’s staff members.

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