A pandemic prom: Junior class participates in movie night, replacing traditional prom celebration

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Photo credit: Sabrina Kim

Juniors sit in socially distanced seats in the amphitheater during the Junior Prom Movie Night. In place of the typical junior-senior prom, Archer hosted a movie night where the 2012 movie “Pitch Perfect” was projected for students.

By Thea Leimone, Culture Editor

Starry lights strung from the roof; a comedy movie projected onto a wall of the amphitheater courtyard; girls clad in dresses and masks chat with goodie bags filled with candy and snacks. This is junior prom. In lieu of the traditional Archer prom, where both juniors and seniors attend, student council and the school administration planned a movie night on-campus for the junior class.

I would consider it a success, I felt like everyone had a really fun time watching ‘Pitch Perfect‘ — it was a good laugh,” junior Layla Huber-Verjan said. “It was nice to connect with peers that I normally wouldn’t talk to.”

Junior grade reps initially did not plan to hold a grade social, as ninth, 10th and some middle school grades have. However, the 11th grade representatives were informed that they could host an event on-campus and chose to create something in place of the traditional prom.

“Getting the opportunity from the administration to do something where everyone can be in the same space, in person — we were like little children, it was so exciting,” 11th grade representative Ava Rothenberg said. “So, immediately, we shifted to wanting to definitely do something.”

The prom movie night took place on Friday from 7:30 – 10:00 p.m., and students were allowed to dress comfy or dress up in traditional prom attire. Attendees were also given pre-packaged snack bags and were asked to remain 6 feet apart with masks on to watch the projected movie.

I think it’s just important to be there for each other through such hard times and such hardships”

— Layla Huber-Verjan

“The highlight of the night had to be about the movie and dancing along with it as they were doing the riff-off,” Huber-Verjan said. “Just being together on Practicum day, which is the day that we normally don’t really see each other in person — I had a blast.”

The alternative prom format provided social connection without the pressures of bringing a date or having to dress and dance with a large group of people.

“I like movies —watching with friends —and dances usually stress me out, so this was good,” junior Justine Moore said. “I wore a dressy casual [outfit], and I was already here early, so just seeing people in their outfits and the range of outfits was really cool.”

As students return to campus twice a week for in-person learning, the physical and social interaction that has been missing for nearly a year is also returning. Students who may not be attending classes were, however, able to attend the movie night and spend time with friends they might not otherwise see.

“Sitting in the front and turning back and seeing all my friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time — it was just nice to be all together,” junior Destiny Morado said. “It was something really different — so many great things are happening all the time with the students, and to have something look forward to is always nice.”

Rothenberg echoed Morado’s statement about watching her classmates connect and shared her excitement regarding the connection as a class representative who worked to organize the event.

I think it’s really been my job as a rep in this time to emphasize to our grade that there is not the trade-off when we work in the virtual world, it doesn’t mean loss of connection,” Rothenberg said. “Those two things can exist simultaneously and it’s my job.”