Here's how some metro Detroit schools are adapting to give seniors a safe & fun prom

Posted at 5:23 AM, Apr 29, 2021

(WXYZ) — Another prom season is here and the pandemic is still changing the milestone celebration for high school seniors.

Schools are trying to navigate state COVID-19 restrictions while putting on an event that would traditionally have 400-500 guests.

Currently, indoor non-residential gatherings are capped at 25 people in Michigan and outdoor non-residential gatherings are limited to 300 people.

It's a difficult time, but schools and student leaders are charting a path forward while some parents are making their own plans to make sure students get their moment in the senior prom spotlight.

At Livonia Churchill High School, the football field where games take place on Friday nights will turn into the scene of a high school prom with all the glitz and glamour.

"The prom is going to be out on our football field actually, so it's going to start off with a nice check-in getting people situated taking some pictures," Senior Julia Ginter-Berriman said.

Ginter-Berriman and Isabella Lamacchiaa are good friends. Julia is student body president. Isabella is Vice President. As student leaders, they've been instrumental in planning the senior prom. Isabella says after another tough school year prom will mean so much.

"Having one event that we're actually able to go to is pretty it's a pretty big deal for us," Lamacchia said. "I already have my dress and everything I'm very excited to go."

Planning for prom started back in November, according to Student Activities Director Paul Mercier.

We knew we probably wouldn't be able to do the traditional prom, which is indoors at the Laurel Manor in Livonia where we usually have it," he said.

He worked with Isabella and Julia to balance COVID-19 protocols and fun.

Their plan includes:

  • Outdoor prom under tents
  • Six students per table
  • Masks required except when eating

The school and students are still setting up guidelines for dancing. They also plan to have an open-air photo booth and a Kona frozen ice truck.

"I actually think it'll make more lasting memories for everyone too because it's kind of like a mix of prom and a graduation-type party with you all the games on the field," Lamacchia said.

At Fraser High School, the prom will be at Jimmy John's Field in Utica.

"We were looking at having it at the school and then we were just kind of like you know what let's think outside the box," Class of 2021 Advisor John Forlini said. "We contacted Jimmy Johns and they said come on over, so it's going to be there under the lights."

Forlini says the students are excited. Dinner will be on the concourse, dancing will be in the outfield. They can use the Jumbotron, sound system – just about everything.

I asked Channel 7 viewers on Facebook about their school's prom plans.

Ana says Novi is having a red carpet and senior sunset event.

Cecilia says West Bloomfield is having their prom on the football field too.

Jennfier says Belleville's prom will be in the school parking lot.

Angel says her prom is canceled, but her school is having a Senior Day with Food trucks, games and a Drive-In Movie in the school parking lot.

Dakota High School is also celebrating graduates with day-time senior send off.

There will be a DJ for atmosphere, multiple photo backdrops, food trucks. Students can wear formal clothes, but some parents are planning their own event.

In an email Dakota Principal Kevin Koskos says, "We are also aware that later that same day there is an event being planned by a group of DHS parents that will look a lot like a traditional Prom at a local banquet facility. We think the fun outdoor activity we are planning, coupled with the parent-planned event later that evening, has wonderful potential to make for a memorable day for our students."

Both parents and administrators want what's best for the students.

School leaders say they will do as much as they can to honor those seniors while balancing safety.

One Downriver district leader told me the rise in COVID-19 cases among young people was a real factor in their decision to have the outdoor prom alternative.

As for those Dakota parents -- none wanted to go on camera, but I spoke to another parent who says a couple of dozen families at her child's school are organizing an alternate back-up prom in case the school cancels their outdoor prom event.

The goal is to give their children the memories almost all other high school graduates have of their senior year.

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