By Debbie Adams
The administration, faculty, staff, and students at William Byrd High School have done their best throughout the past pandemic year to make the best of a challenging situation. They have been determined to keep as many traditions alive as possible—or to create new ones—especially for members of the Senior Class.
The Senior Prom/After Prom the school hosted at Braeloch on April 10 is one such tradition and just one more example of rising above adversity, or as one newspaper headline put it, “To find pomp in the worst circumstance,” with innovative solutions.
In past years, students have attended the formal prom at a local venue, and then afterwards a much more casual After Prom at the high school. Due to health guidelines and restrictions, the school, the PTSO, and the Prom Committee decided to combine all resources and entertainment for both activities into one event in 2021.
Only seniors and their dates were allowed to attend. (Juniors on the Prom Committee were there to help set up and clean up.) The prom remained formal with girls in beautiful gowns and boys in suits and tuxedos. Braeloch Lodge in Vinton was decorated with sparkling lights and white tablecloths. The evening started out with a dinner catered by Mission BBQ.
However, it didn’t look quite like a normal prom since it came with temperature checks, masks (although they could be glamorous), and social distancing—although it was evident girls could still look beautiful and boys handsome while wearing masks.
There was music, but mainly provided by students and staff themselves (assisted by Choir Director Matt Bartley) with a Karaoke system. No couples dancing was permitted.
Students could try their luck at the basketball arcade or playing corn hole. There was a group playing the party game “Mafia.” Attendees could have their pictures taken at the photo booth.
Students could participate in an old-fashioned cake walk to win one of 25 giant Kroger cupcakes decorated in William Byrd colors.
Members of the faculty, staff, parents, and the community had donated piles of gift cards from area businesses and restaurants for drawings, along with a crisp $100 bill, two TVs, and a DOT smart-speaker device. The PTSO usually raises money for After Prom by working football concessions, but without those revenues available this year, the school asked for donations.
Other generous donors provided tons of boxed candy, free for all. Everyone who attended received a William Byrd T-shirt.
The Prom/After Prom event was planned by a committee led by faculty member Cherry Bell Damasco-Farrington, assisted by Senior Class sponsor Hannah Blais and teacher Alicia Spangler, along with students on the Junior Council, and members of the PTSO After Prom Committee, chaired by Shannon Smith.
William Byrd Principal Tammy Newcomb expressed her thanks to all those who made the Prom/After Prom even more special by donating gift cards, money, and candy to add to the excitement.