With the pandemic closing schools last spring and making large indoor gatherings inadvisable this spring, the two most recent classes of Waterloo High School graduates have not had a traditional prom.
A group of parents decided they would not stand for that, so they are organizing a substitute event for all WHS seniors this year called The Last Dance.
“These kids lost so much,” said Summer Jackson, one of the event’s organizers. “They didn’t get any of the senior experience. Let’s give them a night they deserve.”
The idea moved rapidly.
Jackson and Nicki Stephens met March 16 to come up with a plan to take the place of prom.
Both women have seniors at WHS, who are dating, but their children were not the sole reason they wanted to organize the event.
“They are not social butterflies, and we didn’t even know if they would want to go,” Jackson said of her and Stephens’ children. “It wasn’t about our kids going though. It was about the fact that these kids have been stripped of so much, at least give them the chance to attend if they choose.”
Knowing that other parents had been discussing prom plans because there was a good chance it would be canceled, the two women wanted to get a plan together to ensure an event would be feasible before seeking other help.
Once they did that just eight days later, 40 parents quickly began helping to organize or support The Last Dance.
The event is not affiliated with the school in any way, so the parents can not use any money the senior class has raised from prom over the years. While WHS cannot hold a prom, it is having some other prom court activities.
Jackson said the group does not take that personally and is raising its own money through donations from the community and businesses.
Those have taken the form of monetary donations, gift cards and service discounts.
Among the Waterloo businesses that have contributed are Bridal Manor, Just Fakin’ Tans, Xternal Clean Powerwashing, La Belle Vous, Creation Station Designs, Frederico’s, Bloomin’ Diehl’s Floral Boutique, Merle Norman Cosmetics, The Backyard Learning Center, Mr. BBQ and Bountiful Blossoms.
Jackson said all that support will go toward making this a night to remember for seniors.
The event, scheduled for April 24 from 4:30-11 p.m. at the pavilion at Mystic Oaks, will include a dinner from Mr. BBQ, DJ, photographer, videographer and door prizes.
The $20 tickets will cover the catered portion of the evening, with students choosing from three entrees, with the donations covering the rest of the festivities including a gift package for seniors.
“We are trying to cover the DJ, photography, pavilion and decorations,” Jackson said. “We have a few gifts for them we want to be able to get as well. Parents discussed the raffles and gifts the kids usually get at post-prom, so we’re going to see what we can pull off for them. Anything from gift cards to items will be raffled at the event throughout the night.”
The organizers are also planning to use some donations to help those who need it to pay for a ticket or their attire.
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“We ask any parent to email the dedicated email address so we can then cover tickets, help with attire, whatever we need so no one misses out,” Jackson said. “This is also what the donations will help with.”
Jackson also stressed that the event will follow guidelines aimed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and that parents can attend as well.
“We have a solid, safe, within-guidelines event planned,” she said. “We are also encouraging the parents to enjoy each other, in what could be the last event, to have dinner inside the dining room of Mr. BBQ and take shifts on checking (seniors) in and out” being available for any needs.
Donations are still being accepted via Venmo, cash and check.
Jackson said the group is appreciative of all the support already.
“I think the best part of it all is seeing everyone in our community work together,” she said.
Another way to help is spreading the word about the event, which any WHS senior can attend along with a date.
“We’re really trying to make sure no senior is left out,” Jackson emphasized.
The last day to register is April 12 at 5 p.m. RSVP by emailing organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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