A student in Riverview, N.B., is still fighting to have her prom night reinstated after school districts across the province canceled formal ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have had so much taken away from us and it is really not fair,” said Sophia Page, a Grade 12 student at Riverview High School.
Page said she started an online petition after the Anglophone East School District announced last week that traditional graduation ceremonies, proms, safe grads and award ceremonies were all being canceled due to the pandemic.
The petition, which had close to 300 signatures Wednesday morning, is calling on the school district to allow students to have an outdoor prom while wearing masks and physically distancing.
“We have so much stress with online school and not being able to see our friends all the time and we were really looking forward to having something normal at the end of the year,” she said.
School districts across New Brunswick have been notifying parents and students that traditional graduation ceremonies, proms, safe grads and awards ceremonies have all been canceled for the second year in a row.
Anglophone East School District Superintendent, Gregg Ingersoll said the decision to cancel the ceremonies was made collectively early in the semester by all districts across the province to give families time to prepare.
“I do not blame them one bit for not being happy to see that news,” he said.
He said the decision was made to keep students safe and isn’t likely to change until the vaccine rollout is complete.
Page believes the call is excessive and said that students who have been together all year should be allowed some kind of modified prom celebration.
“It shouldn’t be a big issue to go out and go somewhere else with the same people wearing masks and safe distancing,” she said.
Her father, Jeremy Page, supports his daughter’s efforts to fight the decision.
“I think somebody has got to challenge this and try to figure out where our new normal is. I mean the province took away our yellow.”
Ingersoll said, even if the province does revert back to the yellow phase, the district is not likely to endorse any formal graduation activities such as prom.
He said the handing out of diplomas will be similar to last year in keeping COVID-19 protocols.
“It will be a small family event where the graduate comes in with a couple of family members depending on the alert level we are in,” he said.
Lara Lavoie runs a charity called Prom Pretty in Riverview that provides donated prom dresses for free to students who cannot afford their own dresses.
She said that she has already handed out more than a dozen and plans to continue even though prom is canceled because some grads she said are already making alternate mini-prom plans within their steady 10s — the number of people with whom current restrictions allow as constant contacts outside their household.
“I remember back when I was in high school it was a huge deal in finding that perfect dress and getting the prom experience is a big turning point in your life it is a milestone,” said Lavoie.