Can prom still be salvaged for the Class of 2020?

CLEWISTON — Loss, especially missing milestones due to campus closures during the coronavirus pandemic, has become a tragic theme for the Class of 2020. From cancellations in theater, band, choir, art and sports, or just not being able to spend this precious time with their friends before their lives completely change and they are thrust out into adulthood, high school seniors have lost so much.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
A photo on Beth Browning Barfield’s Facebook post illustrates possible prom fashions for 2020.

Many people are coming together with projects like “Sponsor a Senior” or groups working to get senior photos completed, and even getting yard signs made to commemorate their hard work and success, knowing that there is no way to replace the experiences, but trying to show these students that many understand their grief over these losses, and support them during this difficult time.

One local woman is working to put together an area-wide senior prom, with the help of the rest of the community.

“Many last defining senior moments were cut short as schools were abruptly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them, the prom, which is a senior moment that, as a senior, I not only looked forward to but dreamt of my entire high school career. It truly breaks my heart to think this memory, too, will be taken away from these seniors,” wrote Beth Browning Barfield, in a Facebook post.

Ms. Barfield is planning a prom for area seniors, and is donating the use of Arching Oaks Ranch to help create a special night for this year’s class of 2020.

The response immediately became overwhelming, as people chimed in to offer help. Comments on her post ranged from donations of food and drinks to decorations, photography and more. Some talked about donating dresses or tuxedos, makeup and hair, limousines, and even formal, rhinestone-studded face masks for the occasion. But Ms. Barfield said she wanted to make sure she had input from the seniors themselves.

“I would like to ask any senior or senior parent from the following schools to please send me your email, as I want to set up a Zoom Meeting, to hear what it is you want YOUR Prom to consist of. What ideas and suggestions do you have? This WOULD NOT be a school-sponsored event, and will be completely free to attend!!! I know there are amazing community members that will step up to assist in this endeavor,” she continued in her post.

“This is completely in the planning stage. Nothing has been decided!!! I want this to be something that brings the Senior Class some happiness and a night of fun. This event would not be until May or June. We still have to follow CDC restrictions, but my philosophy is: Where there is a will there is a way! Let’s make this happen for some extremely deserving seniors: Moore Haven High School, Clewiston High School, LaBelle High School, and Riverdale High School,” Ms. Barfield explained. “If anyone has ideas or suggestions, please make suggestions! Once again, this IS NOT a school-sponsored event!”

She has set the first Zoom meeting, for the initial planning of this event, for Monday, April 27, at 7 p.m. She is hoping the rest of the community can pitch in to make this event a success.

“I want this to be a night that these seniors deserve,” she wrote.

If you are interested in helping, Ms. Barfield can be contacted via text at 239-289-0052, she added, “Anyone wanting to help will be welcome.”

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