Administrators and students at Ridgeland High School in Rossville are hoping they can still celebrate the end of the school year with a prom, despite many school activities being canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ridgeland staff sent out a survey to juniors and seniors asking who would still want to attend a prom if one were held. More than 200 students responded, and 92% said they still wanted to have a prom and would attend if one were scheduled in the summer.
Principal Karen Hughes said the school wanted to give students something to enjoy for their school year, which effectively ended in March.
"We're trying to salvage as many opportunities for our students as possible," Hughes said. "Nationwide, this pandemic has thrown a curveball to everyone. Not just us, but everyone in our county and our state."
Chief Operations Officers Justin Robertson with Hamilton County Schools said the district has postponed all proms and has yet to reschedule any of them.
Ridgeland's prom was initially scheduled for a date in March at The Venue Chattanooga. When schools across the state started to close, plans for the prom were put on hold.
After the survey results came back, Hughes reached out to the venue to secure another date. The venue had June 20 open on the calendar, and as it stands now, Ridgeland will have prom that night.
"It all hinges on the guidance we're receiving from the governor, our local health department and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]," Hughes said. "Things are changing not only on a daily basis but hourly."
Hughes said students may have to wear masks, sit at tables a safe distance apart from each other and take other precautions based on health guidelines. With the venue being in Tennessee, Hughes said officials have been keeping a close eye on both Georgia and Tennessee's guidelines when it comes to crowds and interaction.
She added the venue is large enough to host the number of students who want to attend.
Hughes added that parents have been supportive of the idea to go on with a prom.
"However, please keep in mind that the impact of COVID-19 is still very real. If guidelines from state and local authorities change, it may force our plans for this event to change. We are in this together, and we are all doing everything we can to ensure a lovely prom experience — no matter when or where that occurs."
Ridgeland’s “Night of a Thousand Lights” prom is scheduled for Saturday, June 20 at The Venue Chattanooga from 7 to 11 p.m.
Tickets for the prom will go on sale starting June 1 at $45 each. Refunds are available for students who bought a ticket before the school was closed and can’t make it.
"We're not going to quit," Hughes said. "It may not work out in June, but we may be able to salvage it for July."
Hughes said LaFayette High School — the other high school that's a part of Walker County Schools — is also working to reschedule its prom. Principal Maggie Stultz could not be reached Friday afternoon by press time.
Times Free Press reporter Meghan Mangrum contributed to this story.
Contact Patrick Filbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.