Rubaina Farin stands outside her closed high school in Toronto’s Don Mills neighbourhood looking in and knowing there will not be a final walk through the hallways.
There won’t be a graduation ceremony, nor the pomp and circumstance of prom night.
Yet Farin is all dressed up with someplace to be — sort of. She and 36 other prom committee student volunteers from across Canada have helped to plan a virtual prom called #PromIsOn2020 that will stream live on YouTube starting at 8 p.m. on Friday.
“We still get to see each other even though it’s not in person,” said Farin, one of the 36 prom planners.
“It’s a way that not only can I be with my friends, I can also help other Canadian students who are missing out on their prom.”
With the help of Student Life Network, a resource hub for students, and in support of Kids Help Phone, thousands of high school grads are refusing to let COVID-19 completely take away one of the most anticipated nights of student life.
“You can expect to see lots of high school students across the country. Our prom committee is going to be featured throughout it and then all of our guest celebrities as well as the performances and a few surprises along the way,” said Student Life Network co-founder Stephen Sills.
The YouTube livestream will feature giveaways, live performances and video messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, performer Johnny Orlando, environmental activist David Suzuki and Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard.
But 17-year-old Woburn Collegiate Institute grad, Zaiboon Azhar, said she is most looking forward to spending the evening FaceTiming her best friends while she participates in #PromIsOn2020.
She said this event will help other students like herself to process the emotions felt after proms throughout the nation were cancelled.
“A lot of kids don’t really feel they have the right to be upset because there are so many other things going on in the world … so many more serious things that worrying about prom simply seems trivial … we’re trying to make the best of it,” said Azhar.
Students were asked to wear their prom attire during a TikTok challenge tagging #PromIsOn2020 on their videos. Friday evening’s virtual prom will also see students in their prom attire as they dance or listen to a live DJ set from Juno-winning duo Loud Luxury.
“We have 1.3 million members at Student Life Network and we’re hoping that all of them come and attend the event so that we can create an awesome moment in history but also generate a lot of donations for Kids Help Phone,” said Sills.