Amid constantly changing pandemic health guidance, Valley Stream high school seniors were able to celebrate one of the most significant coming-of-age traditions this year: prom.
Separate proms for each of Valley Stream’s high schools were hosted at private venues in June, each of which was organized by seniors’ parents. The Valley Stream North prom, attended by 180 students, was held at The Inn at New Hyde Park on June 16. Meanwhile, after much planning, the prom for Valley Stream South, attended by 158 students, was hosted by the Stewart Manor Country Club on June 22.
Valley Stream South parent Marjorie Longid said her daughter told her how the school was unable to hold a formal prom because of coronavirus restrictions. Longid used Facebook to reach out to fellow parents and quickly formed a prom committee of four parents to collaborate on initial ideas for the event.
“We Zoomed weekly,” Longid said. “We talked about where we would have the venue, where would we hold it, how much it would cost. So we formed committees.”
Valley Stream South seniors also formed a leadership group that helped circulate details about the prom among their classmates. Parents showed their support, Longid said, with several volunteering to chaperone the event and donating money toward the DJ and decorations.
Valley Stream North parent Barbara Marano started a “Covid Stole the Prom” fundraiser to reduce the cost of tickets to the proposed prom and support those who needed financial aid to attend. The initiative raised more than $2,500, and the online donation page reinforced the sense of loss among the Valley Stream North senior class.
The funds raised provided special touches such as a photo booth, favor bags and gift cards, Marano said. Leftover funds will be donated to a local charity.
Marano commented on the importance of recreating a “normal” prom, given that students have been learning in either a remote or hybrid environment since their junior year.
“They lost out on junior prom, most of their senior events, many sports games, playing and watching,” Marano said. “We wanted them to have a traditional formal prom with a sit-down dinner, formal attire, and a DJ and dancing.”
Undoubtedly, strictly enforcing coronavirus testing protocols was central to the success of each event. While the Valley Stream Board of Education hosted a “Senior Celebration” outside earlier in June, Dr. Wayne Loper, acting superintendent for the Valley Stream Central High School District, also spoke about the difficulty of the current restrictions on senior traditions.
“As with every other school district, we were faced with constantly changing [New York State] Department of Health guidance as we dealt with pandemic issues. This was a huge obstacle,” Loper said. “Seniors worked with their grade advisers and principals to plan various events as allowed by the then current guidelines.”