It was a showstopper: long awaited and greatly appreciated.
After months of uncertainty, the senior prom brought the Scarsdale High School Class of 2021 together to enjoy an evening of dancing and dining at the Glen Island Harbor Club on Thursday, June 3. Although students dressed up in tuxedos and dresses as usual, some aspects of this year’s prom felt different, reflecting the ever-changing environment the Class of 2021 has been forced to endure due to the impact of the pandemic during their senior year.
On May 4, SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo announced to seniors that their long-awaited prom would be held on the high school campus, along with social distancing practices, mask-wearing and proof of a negative COVID test or vaccination. He added, “We will continue to monitor these changes and pivot accordingly to maximize giving our seniors the most ‘traditional’ end of year events as possible.” On May 20, Bonamo sent a follow-up email with new information concerning the prom, confirming the change of location from the SHS grounds to Glen Island.
Despite not knowing whether a prom would even be held, SHS seniors planned far in advance. Caroline Cavalier said she and her friends got their dresses “months in advance,” before the school administration verified a prom would occur. “I was very grateful for the privilege of having a prom because something like that wouldn’t have happened even just a month ago,” Cavalier said.
Several students viewed the prom like a reunion because the entire class was in one room for the first time since COVID hit Westchester in March 2020 and many students remained virtual for the duration of the academic year. “Prom really brought our grade together,” said Sasha Fischer. “It felt normal despite the school year that we had because everyone was finally together.”
Amid lingering concerns about the pandemic, though, the school kept attendance limited to seniors from SHS, excluding anyone from other grades at SHS or other school districts. While some seniors were upset that rule prevented them from bringing their preferred date, Zach Loeser enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with his classmates, some of whom he had not seen in months. “Although it was only SHS seniors, I think it became even more special,” Loeser said. “Things have been really hectic and crazy with COVID, but things are starting to look good; being together with everyone was really a source of hope for the future.”
Because of COVID, students were instructed to be dropped off at Glen Island by parents, not by a limo or bus. After putting on face coverings as they walked into the venue, students were photographed in small groups before being directed by teachers and school administration to tables organized by last name. At the tables, each individual was required to sign a form confirming they were not in contact with anyone who had tested positive for COVID in the last 14 days, in addition to testing negative or having been vaccinated. From there, students walked up a grand staircase where they were photographed in front of a SHS-themed wallpaper and maroon and white balloons.
Students remained in the ballroom for an hour, while food was placed at each table and the Class of 2021 mingled and talked with each other. A school administrator then announced students could proceed to a lower floor with a dance floor and a DJ. Throughout the evening, students moved between the floors, danced, ate and took photos.
“I am so grateful that we actually got a real prom, and I thought it was really fun to be together as a grade one last time because we didn't have a lot of opportunities to do senior events because of COVID,” said Jane Schmelkin, adding that she thought the school administration found a good balance between ensuring the event was fun but also COVID-safe. Dylan Gross also believes her peers did a good job in promoting safety: “Everyone took the precautions seriously, which was good,” she said.
Although Justin Lofaso initially thought COVID would have “ruined the traditional prom experience,” he told the Inquirer that his experience at prom “exceeded [his] expectations.” Lofaso spent his senior prom dancing, eating and chatting with his friends, and using the photo booth. “I’ll remember prom as a crucial aspect of my high school experience,” he said.
As usual, SHS students organized and attended an after-prom event in New York City following the school-sponsored event, which was open to all SHS seniors and their dates, regardless of grade or school district.