By Katia Campos (Reporter ‘22)
There is no doubt that the past year has been difficult for every Friends’ Central community member. Life has proven to be tough, but with that being said, FOCUS wanted to shine some light on an incredible event that occurred on campus this May: the 11th and 12th-grade prom! The Prom Committee, despite countless deterrence, decided to push on and preserve the “typical” American high-school experience by providing the Upper Schoolers an opportunity to experience a fun occasion at FCS.
With much curiosity regarding what gave the committee the idea and the courage to execute such a memorable event, FOCUS interviewed Ms. Heather Tomes, a faculty leader of the Prom Committee.
When asked what had inspired the event, Tomes replied by saying that she and the prom committee had been working hard on planning since September. The ideal venue was originally the Curtis Center. Due to COVID, which caused last year’s event to be canceled, the venue was willing to reserve the date for another time this year. However, while the opportunity to have had a prom at an off-campus venue of campus seemed promising, it meant only a handful of students would be able to attend: “At about mid-February, the venue let me know that they could only have 10% of their capacity, which meant that we were only able to have 60 guests attend prom,” Tomes informed me.
Hearing such devastating news, Tomes relayed such information to Ms. Beth Johnson, Mr. Bill Kennedy, and Mr. Tom MacFarlane to discuss other available options. It was then decided within an afternoon that prom would be held on campus and the date would be May 1. Given the new location and deadline for the party, the committee realized that they now had little time (6 weeks) to work things out in time for the occasion. “Keep in mind,” Tomes commented, “that when we usually plan prom, it’s a year-long [planning process], so the prom committee and I felt immense pressure to bring an event that would be special.” Another reason for the use of campus was that both the prom committee, Ms. Tomes, the Upper School deans, and the principals wanted to establish a sort of normality and cohesiveness for the students at FCS after having such a difficult and bizarre year apart from each other.
Along with the additional pressures of time management and organization, more obstacles began to arise; these issues included a limited budget, weather, and, of course, health conditions. “With the prom 6 weeks away and a very limited budget, the prom committee was worried about having enough money to really pull off an event for 200+ guests due to the inability to hold many fundraisers,” Tomes reflected. Weather concerns became unusually stressful, as having prom indoors would not be an option due to the pandemic. A few hiccups occurred regarding the lighting of the tent, but the prom committee’s decision to employ simple decorations worked in their favor.
After asking Tomes what she might do differently had she been given a chance to do it all over again, she responded: “Overall, I feel that the evening went spectacularly and it was mostly due to the support of people I had helping me with the events prep. The prom committee and I would especially like to thank Beth [Johnson], Bill [Kennedy], and Tom [MacFarlane] for their support, physical plant for their hard work in help setting up and breaking down the event, and really being willing to do anything we asked them to do, and security for their presence on the evening of the event to ensure that we were all safe. A big shout-out goes to Andrea Nuneveiller and 25 junior/senior parents for volunteering to help light 1,000 luminarias and pin on 100 centerpieces to tables. [Thanks to] Lydia Martin for setting up a photographer to capture the night. I feel truly grateful for the support from so many in our community. On a personal note, my husband and daughter gave up most of their time on the day of prom to help set up—a gigantic thank you goes out to them as well.” For those on campus, be sure to take a moment and thank the deans, the principals, Ms. Tomes, and the prom committee for making such a wonderful event a reality during these unpredictable times.