After year’s absence, proms popping up in Delaware

Schools offer safe alternatives to traditional dances

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 4/30/21

Indian River High School’s prom will likely be one to remember this year — and not just because it’s being staged during an ongoing pandemic.

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After year’s absence, proms popping up in Delaware

Schools offer safe alternatives to traditional dances


Indian River High School’s prom will likely be one to remember this year — and not just because it’s being staged during an ongoing pandemic.

Permission has been granted and the fuse will be lit for a mini-fireworks display during IR’s outdoor prom, set for this Saturday in the school’s stadium.

“The community really wanted to make this special for the kids this year. They’ve been through a lot. They have had to overcome a lot of hurdles and obstacles this year, so the Prom Committee floated that idea,” said Assistant Principal Will Revels.

The fireworks, about 10 minutes in duration, are scheduled to begin about 9 p.m. — an hour before the end of the prom.

In addition, IRHS invites nearby residents to grab chairs and enjoy the show from their homes.

IR’s prom, a formal affair, begins with the 5 p.m. Grand March. Festivities will follow, from 7-10.

“The Grand March is kind of a red carpet-style event. Several of the schools in the area do it,” said Mr. Revels. “It’s really a neat opportunity for the parents and families to come out and celebrate the students before prom. Their name is announced, and they get cheered on and that kind of thing.”

Family on hand for the Grand March will be seated in the stadium’s stands and remain in that area, while observing COVID-19 protocols of masks and social distancing.

“The theme is ‘Masquerade,’ which we felt was appropriate for the time!” Mr. Revels said.

The event, beneath a 60-by-120-foot tent, will feature a DJ and live music, food trucks and special surprises.

“Food trucks will be used this year instead of a traditional caterer, to kind of reduce touchpoints a little bit, instead of buffet-style,” said Mr. Revels.

The fireworks will be set off on school grounds but well outside the stadium.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of acreage here on our property that allows (us) to do something like this. Of course, there is a lot involved with something like that,” said Mr. Revels, noting the required State Fire Marshal approval, as well as support from the town of Dagsboro, the IRSD school board and its district office.

Fireworks are covered through student fundraising. “The kids have raised quite a bit of money over these past couple of years,” Mr. Revels said.

Planning incorporated a limit of approximately 300 attendees, and the actual number is under that.

Prom is open to all IRHS seniors and juniors and their high school-aged guests who are actively working in their classes and submitting assignments, either online or in person.

“We’re really excited for all the kids in Sussex County that have overcome these obstacles,” said Mr. Revels. “It has been a tough year, with remote learning, making those adjustments, and for them to show this level (of) perseverance, they really deserve something special.”

Caesar Rodney High School

Creating lasting memories is also the hope at Caesar Rodney High.

On May 15, CR will stage “Parade and Promenade” — a seniors-only event combining some of the traditional activities the class of 2021 missed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“This year’s group of seniors also missed homecoming,” said CR Principal Dr. Sherry Kijowski. “So we are actually having a parade for the seniors, like a senior cruise that follows the (homecoming) parade route. They’ll be able to decorate cars. Parents (and the) community can come out and support them through the parade process.”

An outdoor promenade on the Caesar Rodney campus will follow the parade, which will begin at 5 p.m. Lineup starts at 4, along the railroad tracks in Wyoming.

The prom will include senior announcements, a DJ, a series of picture stations, games and activities. Bags with individual snacks will be dispersed, in lieu of a formal meal, Dr. Kijowski said.

Festivities will conclude at 7.

“Basically, we are trying to give them some of the experiences that they missed this year. We normally do a senior tailgate, like when college-application month is over. We normally do a decision day, once they finalize their senior plans. We are taking aspects of all of those different events and putting it into the evening for May 15,” the principal said. “We definitely want to try and make some memories for them. I have a very enthusiastic committee of staff members that is working on this process, along with our senior class officers. I think it will be good.”

Sussex Academy

Sussex Academy in Georgetown held its outdoor prom on school grounds Saturday.

An estimated 170 attendees gathered at the event, held outdoors behind the school, Head of School Eric Anderson said.

Sheltered by two large tents, the prom featured food trucks, music from a DJ and a band and a paper lantern launch in conclusion.

“The kids said it was a 10 out of 10, a great time. We have had all favorable feedback,” Mr. Anderson said. “At first, the kids were a little hesitant to dance, but as the night went on, they got comfortable and they felt like kids again — for a night.”

Face masks were required to be worn, except when eating.

“We highly suggested people to get (COVID-19) tested prior to the event or get their vaccine shot, since it had become available. We did temperature checks, screening,” Mr. Anderson said.

Laurel High School

Laurel High also had its prom Saturday.

“And I will tell you, as I was greeting people, parents coming into the Grand March — I have been a principal in this district for eight years, and I have never been thanked as much for doing an event as I was for having prom this year,” said Laurel High Principal David Hudson. “I think our community really enjoyed it.”

Staged in the football stadium and adjacent parking lot, Laurel’s semiformal prom was open to juniors and seniors and their guests. It featured a turnout of 80 to 90 attendees, who enjoyed DJ entertainment and boxed finger foods.

“And we made sure that the songs stayed quick, so there was no temptation to get too close when they were dancing,” Mr. Hudson said, with a chuckle. “We had staff there making sure everybody was socially distanced.”

Other schools plan safe prom fun

This Saturday evening marks Sussex Tech High School’s outdoor, in-person Senior Celebration, from 6-9 p.m. at Vanderwende Acres on Atlanta Road, near Seaford. Tech’s event is for seniors and juniors, as well as their guests. The event begins with a photo promenade.

Saturday, May 8 is the date for Lake Forest High School’s face to face junior/senior prom, according to Lake Forest Superintendent Dr. Steven Lucas.

Themed “Magical Night,” Lake's prom will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in an outdoor venue at the Delaware State Fairgrounds’ Kent Building. Grand March starts at 7 p.m. for seniors only.

Formal attire may be worn but is not required, no jeans are allowed .

Sussex Central High School’s prom is set for May 15, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with the Grand March, followed by an outdoor event on school grounds from 7-9. It will also feature a large, tented area.

“We’re trying to find ways to make it extra-special for our seniors,” said SCHS Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield.

Cape Henlopen High School is going off school grounds for its prom, May 23 at Baywood Greens in Long Neck. All attendees must follow COVID-19 requirements, and guests must agree to adhere to the district’s code of conduct.

All students and guests attending Cape’s event must complete a COVID-19 self-assessment prior to admittance. Any student or guest who answers yes to any of the self-assessment questions will not be permitted to attend.

Milford High School will join prom festivities May 22, with an event in the Delmarva Building at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington from 7-10 p.m. A promenade is being planned prior, at Briggs Stadium.

There will not be a prom this spring at Seaford High School. “There was a survey of all juniors and seniors, and there was not enough interest to have it,” said Jason Cameron, Seaford School District spokesman.