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High school proms and graduations move closer to the typical celebrations in Diocese of Wilmington

A senior and members of her family participate in a drive-thru Senior Day celebration at St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, N.Y. May 8, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are adjusting their graduations to the current reality. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Catholic high schools have been holding junior and senior proms over the past few weeks, with a few still to come. Graduations begin on May 26 with Ss. Peter and Paul High School. Like many other social functions, these events continue to be influenced by COVID-19.

Ursuline Acedemy held its prom and will hold its graduation under a tent on the school’s front lawn. For the prom, it was decorated to look like a garden party, spokesperson Brittany Keller said. In lieu of a sit-down dinner, food trucks were brought in for a “grab-and-go format. All participants, including the girls’ dates, had to take a COVID test prior to the prom.

The tent will host the baccalaureate Mass on June 5, and graduation will be the next day. All attendees will have to wear masks. Each senior can bring four guests who will sit in individual pods under the tent.

At Saint Mark’s, the junior-senior prom will be held May 27 at the Chesapeake Inn in Maryland. That venue provides a veranda and terrace, allowing the students to be outside with room to spread out. There will be no sit-down dinner. Only Saint Mark’s students will be allowed to attend.

“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we are unable to welcome students from other schools to the Saint Mark’s prom this year,” spokesperson Denise Blum said.

“It’s been a tough year, and the students deserve an evening to celebrate with their classmates,” she continued. “The Chesapeake Inn is the perfect venue for prom this year as it will provide students the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air.”

Graduation will take place on the lacrosse field in front of Saint Mark’s, as it was last year. It is scheduled for June 5.

Padua Academy also held its prom at the Chesapeake Inn a few weeks ago. Similar to Saint Mark’s, students from other schools were not allowed.

“While we certainly understand the disappointment of not having guests attend this year, it was of the utmost importance that our students’ and families’ health and safety be the top priority,” said Maria Kilmon, the upperclass dean of students.

Kilmon added that a positive of having a closed event was giving the seniors the opportunity to enjoy one last memory together. The evening included hors d’oeuvres stations, dancing, photo opportunities, a video montage and a basket raffle.

Padua will hold its graduation at Abessinio Stadium on June 7, with a rain date of June 8.

The senior prom for Salesianum School took place in early May at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. That venue could hold students both outside and inside, Salesianum director of activities Dan Jackman said, and could provide room for dancing and casino tables that are part of the school’s normal prom.

“Our prom at the aquarium will make full use of outdoor decks on the waterfront overlooking downtown Philadelphia, ballroom spaces and unique opportunities for exploring the aquarium at night. Of course, there will be plenty of food as well,” Jackman said.

For graduation, the school is taking advantage of Abessinio Stadium. Graduation will take place on June 5. Each graduate will get four tickets for family members. The Class of 2020 is being invited back for its “graduation” on June 1 at the stadium.

And at Archmere, the prom, baccalaureate and ring Mass will take place under a large tent set up behind the Patio. Another tent is reserved for the after-prom, principal Katie Thiel said. The prom is June 4 for seniors and their dates, who can come from outside the Archmere community. There will be a food truck instead of a traditional dinner.

“I think it’s going to be more fun,” Thiel said.

For graduation, each senior will be able to invite five guests. That is scheduled for June 6.

St. Elizabeth High School held a prom for seniors only. It followed all COVID guidelines, according to the principal, Terre Taylor. The baccalaureate Mass and graduation will be held in person, but with limited attendance. The Mass is June 6, with graduation the next night.