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Despite hurdles from Covid-19, Locust Valley High School sets sights on August prom

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Locust Valley High School plans to hold its prom at the Swan Club in Roslyn on August 6, after the venue offered to host the event free of charge for students.

The high school originally planned to have its prom at the Swan Club on June 12, but the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person instruction and events for Locust Valley students beginning in mid-March, forced the administration and student body to alter those arrangements.

Patrick DiClemente, principal of Locust Valley High School, said a recent survey sent to students and parents gauging interest for a postponed prom yielded 93 percent interest from students and 92 percent interest from parents. DiClemente said committing to a date for the time being “provides relief” to a senior class that has missed out on opportunities to cap off their final year of high school, but maintained that the school would be “prepared to follow the necessary guidelines” still in place by August. 

“Nassau County could say we’re not supporting gatherings over 50, but anything we can firm up that provides optimism and fills the void from events that have been canceled is a homerun for students right now,” he said.

Louie Tiglias, owner of the Swan Club who also has a daughter in the graduating class, said he had to step up and “do the right thing” to give the students a sense of normalcy to end their senior year. Tiglias said the decision to make the event free of charge came after seeing the financial effects the pandemic has had on the local community. 

“I understand that everybody, especially in my community, is going through a financial problem, so to make a commitment that might not happen is very hard,” Tiglias said. “So, I said, ‘let's get that worry out of the way with everybody, nobody has to make any kind of financial payment.”

Lifting any financial burdens on families further, Tiglias said he is also partnering with the local prom dress company Blush to donate prom dresses to those who are unable to acquire them. Tiglias noted that several other vendors including a DJ and florist have already committed to working the event if it goes forward. 

Despite restrictions that might be in place, Tiglias said he and his staff have created an adjustable “game plan” that would utilize the Swan Club’s seven acres of property to its fullest extent, making the prom a mostly outdoor gathering. Tiglias said his team has also considered placing six-foot markings on the floors of its 7,000 square foot grand ballroom, allowing students to dance apart and “come and go” by taking food outside.

Hans Kiessling, president of Locust Valley High School’s student government, said students and administrators have also discussed the possibility of making the event earlier in the day to best make use of the outdoor space, along with restricting prom access to solely Locust Valley seniors to keep numbers low.

Kiessling said he was “shocked” when he heard Tiglias would be hosting the event free of charge, and said the senior class is now looking for other ways to spend the money it raised for prom.

“I’d like to see a little of the money go towards a bench in remembrance of the senior year we didn’t get to have, and then have the rest of the money go towards a local charity so we can see the effects of our dollar in the community,” Kiessling said.

Sophia Villella, student government treasurer, said the class is “thankful” to have the chance to redeem part of their senior year. “It means a lot to us because we’ve all grown up together, we live in a small town, so coming together before everyone goes away is very important,” Villella said. “We want to try our best to make everything happen even though we know there is a lot we can’t control, but despite all of that, coming together as a community is just what’s important to us and its always been.”

Parker Jones, senior class president, said while it is of concern to ensure everyone’s safety at the event, he reiterated that at this point, everyone is happy to “have something to look forward to.”

“As a grade we all talk every day on our ‘GroupMe’ and everyone says that we all just want to have closure with each other and say goodbye one last time before we leave for college,” he said.