Senior prom to be held at Plimoth Patuxet Museums on May 22
Seniors will have a prom this year — despite a handful of less-than-popular covid-19 safety restrictions, including a prohibition on guests from lower grades and from other schools and a requirement that students sit 6 feet apart while eating dinner.
During their April 29 meeting, the School Committee unanimously approved a request to change the prom venue to the Plimoth Patuxet Museums — formerly known as the Plimoth Plantation. In February 2020, the committee approved the Cape Cod Club as the venue for the class of 2021’s senior prom. But that venue couldn’t accommodate the safety measures deemed necessary by school officials, explained Wareham High School Principal Scott Palladino.
Palladino explained that it was important to him that dinner at prom be handled the same way as lunch at school.
“Basically, I was a pain in the neck in this process because I was not going to settle for us having students in close proximity, and I wanted them to handle it the same way that we handle school lunch,” he said. “And if you remember, the protocol for school lunch is 6 feet apart once the masks come off. So there’s not a lot of venues that could satisfy that need.”
In the end, the Plimoth Patuxet Museums were able to accommodate the requirement by planning to seat two students at each table at a 6 foot distance from each other. Palladino emphasized that eating dinner wouldn’t take up much of the night — only about 45 minutes by his estimate.
He said the students and senior class advisers who worked to plan prom started with a list of 50 possible venues that they worked to narrow down. The 6 feet requirement for tables helped reduce the list significantly, Palladino said. It was also important that every senior could attend prom if they wanted to, he added, which meant there were some size requirements for the venue as well.
Palladino said to maintain a safe environment, the school will only allow Wareham High School seniors to attend prom. No outside or underclassmen guests will be permitted — a sore spot for some students.
“Personally, the students aren’t really complaining about the number [of people] per table,” said Grace Brogioli, when asked about student pushback. “But they’re more complaining about the no outside guests because a lot of students have dates from other schools or friends from other schools that they wanted to bring.”
When citizens were allowed to speak at the beginning of the meeting, some parents had expressed frustration with the limit on guests and the two-person per table limit.
Although not everyone was pleased with the restrictions, Palladino emphasized their importance. He also reminded people that the class of 2020 did not have a prom.
“We didn’t want this senior prom to be a superspreader and ruin the seniors’ last few weeks, senior week and potentially ruin graduation,” he said. “So we really felt like we had to do a great job in making sure we had an appropriate venue that was safe for our students.”
Committee member Mary Morgan asked whether or not the fact that seniors over the age of 16 became eligible to receive the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine on April 19 would impact the decisions about safety precautions at prom. Palladino explained that even if most seniors received their first dose on April 19 they wouldn't get their second dose until after prom. At the earliest, seniors would receive a second dose on May 10, and their full immunity wouldn't kick in two weeks later, on May 24.
Senior Adreanna Dillen had the opportunity to visit the new venue during the decision-making process and told the committee about her favorite features of the Plimoth Patuxet Museums.
“One of the parts that I really liked about it was a stone fireplace, and the lady who gave use the tour — she said that we could actually turn it on during the prom,” Dillen said. “So if it’s cold we can stand by the fire. [...] And, on the inside, something that I really liked was that there are already lights strung up, so we wouldn't have to decorate too much.”
Following the committee’s approval, prom will be held at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums on May 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. — starting and ending half an hour earlier than usual because of a curfew at the venue. Tickets will cost $75 each.
Palladino said plans for the promenade, at which students usually show off their formalwear in the high school auditorium, were still in progress.