Final decisions made for senior activities


photo by Courtney Downing

Seniors from the class of 2019 dance at prom together. They were the last senior class to enjoy a traditional prom before the coronavirus.

After several months of uneasy silence, the fate of senior activities felt uncertain. And following the cancelation of the homecoming dance, seniors were quick to look to admin for a decision on their long-awaited prom. The official Class of 2021 eCampus page gathered students’ opinions in a poll, and within a few weeks, principal Robert Frasca announced that prom would merge with the Sammy’s and prohibit dancing, seniors would get to decide between two graduation options, and Grad Bash was canceled.

While Universal Studios initially permitted Grad Bash under “very important COVID safety protocols,” schools were later informed on Feb. 19 that the event could not happen. The ultimate decision for Grad Bash was out of the school’s hands, but Frasca, the rest of administration, and the Leadership class all put careful consideration on the best way to go about two other major senior events—prom and graduation.

“Our goal is to try to conduct as many events for our seniors as we can while still following… safety protocols,” Frasca said. “It is hard because I know that our seniors and their parents want the end of their senior year to be ‘normal,’ [but] we are not in a normal situation.”

In regards to the graduation ceremony, while it originally mimicked last year’s plan with individually reserved time slots in the Hagerty auditorium with unlimited guests, all SCPS high schools will now be graduating at the UCF football stadium on May 14 at 9 a.m. As of now, the amount of guests each student can bring is unknown. Although AP exam dates have been adjusted to be administered from May 3 to June 11, the new ceremony date pushed seniors’ last day of school back to May 7. This includes seniors taking FLVS, who will also be expected to finish their classes by then.

“The principals in Seminole County have had many conversations regarding senior events for the spring, including graduation… [and] I met with many seniors to get feedback,” Frasca said.

Leadership made much more drastic changes to prom. Knowing that dancing would not be allowed as a safety precaution, and the event was made into a hybrid with the Sammy’s—a student-run award show for senior superlative nominations, entertainment and reminiscing over their high school experiences.

The Sammy’s “Prom” will still be held at Hard Rock in Universal Citywalk on April 17, featuring exclusively senior attendees in typical prom attire, decorations and catering that have been in the works since last year, and some other surprises. Prom chair senior Charlotte Mansur is still very optimistic despite the limitations.

“I think seniors will be very hesitant at first, but honestly I think this version of prom will end up being even more fun,” Mansur said.

Mansur has been coordinating with the chairs of the Sammy’s, juniors Abby O’Donnell, Riley Sophia and Rita Smith, in addition to the rest of the Leadership class, since the two events were merged. They expect to keep things safe through guidelines like enforced mask-wearing and social distancing, temperature checks and restricting it to Hagerty-only seniors.

“We are planning many unique and fun things that we all hope will make this Sammy’s the best one yet,” O’donnell said. “We are hoping that everyone realizes that we are putting a lot of time and effort into making this event.”

Student reception has been mixed since the initial announcements, but most are not too disappointed. Many seniors wish they could go to Grad Bash, have a normal graduation ceremony and dance at prom, but given coronavirus constraints, the school has managed to acclimate suitably while still permitting some fun.

“I wasn’t mad at the school, but I was just upset my senior experience won’t be the same as years before,” senior Natalia Cruz said. “I’m probably going to participate in everything… because I’m just going to take what we can get.”