Harwood prom is back. This year, prom is happening on Saturday, May 22, at the Mad River Barn in Waitsfield. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a few things about prom this year, however. For instance, all students will be required to wear masks. Additionally, the venue is entirely outdoors with a screened-in dance floor.
Another notable COVID-related change to this year’s prom is that only seniors and their guests can attend. Normally, juniors and their guests are invited as well. However, the Harwood prom committee wanted to keep the venue as small as possible this year, given that the pandemic is still among us.
“We decided on only seniors to make numbers smaller, knowing that juniors will have prom next year,” said Harwood Union High School (HUHS) co-principal Laurie Greenberg, who is also part of the prom planning committee.
As of now about 60 students have signed up for prom, but that number will likely grow as more students and their dates sign up. “We don’t have a final number at this point,” said Greenberg.
When asked if the school would attempt to keep students socially distanced from one another during prom, Greenberg referred to the Vermont Agency of Education’s prom recommendations. “We were told that these were events that could happen and that no strict supervision of distancing is necessary,” said Greenberg.
It was not Greenberg’s idea to host prom this year. “It was a community decision,” she said. “Overall, I feel our students will feel happy that they at least have an opportunity to have this celebration together. This is a milestone in their lives.”
Currently, the 2021 Harwood prom has no specific theme. Regarding the choice of location, Harwood Union English teacher and prom planner Jonah Ibson weighed in with the reasoning for choosing the Mad River Barn. “It was chosen for its beautiful grounds and pavilion, safe location and local, Harwood connection,” he said. “The owners are essentially donating the use of their amazing facility and staff to enable the members of the class of 2021 to have this memorable experience, and I think it's incredibly generous and kind of them to do so.”
In terms of planning, adjusting to shifting regulations has been one of the hardest parts of prom planning, said Ibson. “The biggest challenge has been the shifting information and guidelines regarding COVID-19 that has made it impossible to begin planning prom until very recently. Beyond that, it is hard not to be able to invite every single student that would like to come. After the challenges we have faced this past year, each student deserves a party thrown in their honor! But as we have been doing since the beginning, safety continues to be our first priority.”