Prom season 2021 reimagined

"I think it's still going to be a blast"
Posted at 6:11 PM, May 03, 2021

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Prom season is returning for the first time since pandemic hit more than a year ago for some area high schools.

“Are you excited about prom?” Buckley asked.

“’I’m very excited,” replied Ashden Cichoki, senior, St. Joseph’s Colligate Institute, Town of Tonawanda.

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Ashden Cichoki, senior, St. Joseph’s Colligate Institute, Town of Tonawanda.

New York State issued new guidance for proms in April:

  • Students still have to wear masks at the dance
  • Any prom with more than 100-people indoors or 200-outdoors, must require proof of a completed vaccine series or negative Covid test

St. Joe’s is now gearing up for the senior prom to be held this Saturday, May 8.

Joseph Sodaro, St. Joe's senior.

“Are you all set to go to the prom?”, questioned Buckley.

“I am all set to go to the prom, yes,” responded Joseph Sodaro, senior.

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Matthew Schneggenburger, St. Joe's senior.

“Very excited — even though it looks different — I think it's still going to be a blast,” declared Matthew Schneggenburger.

St. Joe's seniors say they are thrilled for this Saturday’s prom even though it will look much different then past proms.

It will be semi-formal and outside.

A tent will be placed near the football field behind the school in the athletic area.

This area outside St. Joe's High School will be transformed for the senior prom.

It will include food trucks and miniature golf.

“The goal is to keep them outside — get them spread out, so they're not bunching around each other. There's not going to be any formal dancing. There are some regulations with that, but we decided that's not going to be part of our event,” explained Jim Spillman, principal.

Jim Spillman, St. Joe's principal.

Spillman says he's expecting 150 to attend.

“What made the difference in being able to do this?," asked Buckley.

“I think just trying to get creative and coming up with solutions. There's always ways. Everything became more difficult this year and I think the ability to something outdoors,” Spillman noted.

Dancing won't be allowed to keep safe distancing.

“If someone's dancing on their own, we're not going to stop them from dancing, but there won't be any of the large group dancing that you would normally see at a prom,” said Spilllman,

Starting June 1, state guidance for proms:

  • Event organizers must ensure that attendees are not congregating, except when seated at their assigned table. Attendees should only be standing when necessary (e.g.,enter/exit, restroom, use of staffed buffet), when essential to the event (e.g., entrance), or, when permitted under the below circumstances.
  • Event organizers may provide cocktail receptions for attendees where standing is permitted with strict adherence to social distancing; provided, however, that attendees only remove their face coverings to consume food and beverages while seated. Further, attendees must not remove their face covering and must not consume food and beverage if members of different parties are within six feet.
  • Event organizers may permit live music, entertainment (e.g., DJ), and/or dancing within the following parameters, which will be revisited by the State as the public health condition continues to change:
  • Event organizers should consider staggered intervals for food service at staffed buffets to allow attendees to maintain social distance while waiting in line.
  • Event organizers should consider serving any passed foods (e.g., hors d’oeuvres) in containers that limit touching of any shared surfaces (e.g., platters) by attendees.
  • Events are subject to inspection by State and local health authorities to ensure compliance with all provisions of State-issued guidance.But at the St. Joe’s prom there will be photo booths.

Jeffrey Toy is with Toy Brothers Entertainment. He will be providing the photo booths for the St. Joe's prom.

Toy says since the governor issued new guidelines for proms, he received a lot of requests from schools for photo booths and music.

Jeffrey Toy, Toy Brothers Entertainment, in Zoom interview.

“Honestly, about two weeks ago we were getting a ton of cancellations. People were just giving up and then in a matter two to three hours we literally got about 30 phone calls or emails from all different schools all around Western New York saying hey we're gong to figure this out, we're going to make it happen, what can you do for us,” Toy remarked.

Toy says even without dancing, they’re trying to help customize entertainment for schools.

“We’re working with the schools saying ‘all right what do your students want to hear’, so at least if they can't dance and be close to each other, we can at least play what they want to hear,” explained Toy.

Toy said he probably lost about $200,000 from last seasons proms and weddings and now is working to recover.

For Nardin Academy High School seniors their prom is already a high school memory.

Last Friday they gathered at Aqua in Buffalo for their senior formal.

Nardin Academy High School seniors at their prom.

“The girls — they looked gorgeous they were so thankful, they were grateful. Everyone just had a really nice time spending time with their friends,” reflected Colleen Robertson, principal.

Robertson says about 99 seniors attended and because they were under capacity at the venue, no Covid testing or vaccine proof was needed.

Colleen Robertson, principal, Nardin Academy High School.

“So many of the students wanted just to come with their friends and share a meal with them so we had about three tables of just girls that wanted to come and some of our other brought dates,” Robertson noted.

“What did it feel like, as a school leader, to actually do something normal for the students?,” asked Buckley.

“We were so happy and the team working with the faculty members in order to make this happen,” replied Robertson.

St. Joe's seniors they're now ready for prom night fun and celebration.

“I’m really excited because I think we have an opportunity that not a lot of other high school kids have,” said Sodaro.

7 Eyewitness News checked in with a few other schools to see if proms are being planned.

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School prom.

Sacred Heart Academy in Amherst said it is preparing for a junior and senior prom. Normally they would be held together, but this year the junior and senior prom will be held separately.

Mount St. Mary Academy in the Town of Tonawanda has two prom dates posted on it's website calendar; May 14 for the senior prom and June 12 for juniors.

A spokesperson for Niagara Falls City School said at this time they "do not have any final plans for a prom"at this time, however, the district is working with students and will be meeting Wednesday morning for a discussion.

Charter School for Applied Technologies in Kenmore said it will not have a prom this school year.