HARROD — When Allen East juniors and seniors head to prom this year, there won’t be any underclassmen or dates from other schools.
But there will be plenty of dancing under the stars, as the high school prepares to bring back the popular rite of passage with an outdoor dance, one of several modifications schools are making to ensure students don’t miss out on prom a second time in two years.
“For those juniors who didn’t get to experience prom last year, we knew that we wanted to at least try to have it this year,” said Jennifer Treglia, a third-grade teacher and junior-class advisor for Allen East schools.
Schools started planning in earnest after Gov. Mike DeWine in March announced that prom would be permitted this year, as the Ohio Department of Health has started lifting some restrictions on entertainment venues, restaurants and banquet halls to accommodate the increasing number of adults who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Allen East opted for an outdoor dance, Treglia said, as it anticipated possible last-minute changes to the rules after a year of constantly evolving restrictions.
The school has rented a tent and heating lamps, given the uncertainty of April weather, and will require students to wear masks and stay several feet apart from one another while dancing.
“We didn’t want Gov. DeWine to say, two weeks before prom, no indoor activities,” Treglia said.
Lima Senior is also restricting prom to juniors and seniors, no outside dates allowed, in an effort to keep the dance small.
At Coldwater High School, students posed for pictures with their dates before a formal dinner and dance in the school’s gymnasium, while parents and siblings watched from the bleachers.
But the dance was shortened to make it easier for students to comply with the rules, Principal Jason Hemmelgarn said.
“The last year was heartbreaking,” Hemmelgarn said. “A lot of kids missed out not just on prom, but all the things that go with the end of the (school) year. So this year everybody’s realizing you don’t want to take anything for granted and are willing to do their part to make sure things go on.”