MVRHS prom pushed to senior year

Students miss prom this year, but look forward to next year’s celebration.

Moments like this one from last year's junior prom will be delayed for a year. This year's prom has been postponed until senior year. - Gabrielle Mannino

Prom is a time to make memories that last a lifetime, and although Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students won’t have that chance this year, they are looking forward to going all out with a senior prom.

Junior prom was originally planned for May 2, but with social-distancing guidelines restricting Island events and gatherings, and many of this year’s fundraising opportunities lost, class officers are working with school officials and the entire class to plan for next year.

“We are all disappointed with how things turned out, but obviously it is out of our control,” junior class president Zach Smith told The Times.

For this first time, prom was slated to happen at Noman’s in Oak Bluffs, and Smith said the plans were coming together seamlessly before COVID-19 began to take away many of the summer events Islanders look forward to each year.

“We have pretty much been planning this since freshman year. Everyone has worked so hard on this, and I am pretty proud of the way we have all adapted to the situation,” Zach said. “Once we saw all of this start to happen and realized there probably couldn’t be a junior prom, we decided to plan for a senior prom instead.”

Although plans regarding the event, such as timing and location, are not solidified, Zach said students are anticipating prom will happen around the same time next year, and will still be at Noman’s.

“Nothing is concrete, nothing is official yet. We still need to go through our full student council and hear from the entire class,” Zach said.

As of now, the plan is to hold a junior/senior prom, for both current juniors and the upcoming grade, instead of a junior prom. Whether or not this change will be a permanent one for the school is yet to be determined.

With prom being such a major event in students’ high school experiences, most juniors agree that holding any fanfare or celebration off until senior year — when kids can fully enjoy their special moments — is the best call.

Junior Dylan Burke said senior prom is giving him something to look forward to, at a time when there is not a lot to be excited for or anticipate.

Student Owen Metell said students have spent countless hours since freshman year raising funds for prom, and that dedication will continue until the event is made possible.

“It was very disheartening. We spent so many hours at football games, soccer games, and other fundraisers. But I think everyone here is excited for senior prom,” Owen said.

Junior Willa Welch said planning on having a senior prom is helping students through a difficult time, when the future is so uncertain. “It is just helping us get through all of it, knowing that we are going to have a prom at some point,” Willa said. 

One of the most memorable things about prom is getting gussied up, and since tuxedo renters weren’t able to offer tuxes, colored cummerbunds, and boutonnieres, it would have been difficult to have any sort of alternative event.

Willa said her mom got her a prom dress as a birthday gift, so she is going to save her dress and debut it during the senior celebration. “I think for a bunch of girls, they haven’t gotten their dresses. A lot of them that have gotten them want to save their dresses for the actual occasion, and not show them until that point,” Willa said. 

Another junior girl, Hope Bettencourt, noted that the cancellation of junior prom has weighed heavily on the entire grade, but she already has her dress stored away for the day when she can put it on, along with a corsage.

According to Hope, there is a group chat for junior girls that was originally started as a way for them to communicate about their dresses and make sure no girls showed up wearing the same ones. That group has expanded, and taken off as a planning and outreach group for junior girls who are wondering about prom plans. “After we found out prom wasn’t happening this year, I messaged the dress-group chat with information, and asked people to reach out if they have questions,” Hope said.

And the Island community that was planning on helping with this year’s prom is making the necessary accommodations for students.

Restorative coordinator at MVRHS Nell Coogan said Noman’s is still looking forward to hosting prom next year, and the Food Truck, which was initially going to supply food for the event, is still onboard.

“Everyone has just been really accommodating and flexible. People want to help us make this possible no matter what, even if it has to happen next year,” Coogan said.