GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Community volunteers have come up with a way for high school seniors in Greene County to celebrate their last dance together.
It’ is called a “United Prom”, but is being celebrated separately.
Pheben Kassahun explains how event organizers will make sure social distancing is followed.
Following state guidelines, volunteer organizers in Greeneville are working to help seniors of Greene County have a prom: quarantine style.
“We’re having it rain or shine,” community volunteer, Amy Rose said. “I know the weather is a little bit spotty right now, but the last time I checked, we were still more of a chance of not having rain, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed and saying our prayers and hoping that everything will be just fine.”
The Greene County Fairgrounds lot will be transformed into a social distancing prom, Saturday.
“Drive-in, park their cars, have all kinds of entertainment, music, cell phone games and then they can drive around to where we are now, which is the photo studio. Have free prom pics made and drive back out to the party,” Rose said.
Rose and a group of other Greene County volunteers have worked to provide the event free of charge to the seniors, which is exclusively to Greene County seniors from all five high schools, homeschools and private schools.
“A little over a month ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning with kind of a heavy heart because I was on social media seeing kids sad about not having a prom this year. Some girls had already bought their dresses,” Rose said. “The community has really come together for this event. I am amazed at how our community has stepped up to support these kids. We have lots of sponsors and donors, and volunteers that are working really hard to make sure that they have a prom.”
Rose understands the students’ desire for having prom because the excitement is still fresh on her mind, having helped her son prepare for it in 2019.
“My son had prom last year and I got to get his tux and match it with his date’s dress and it was such a wonderful time for mom and so I wanted to try to make this happen for families here in Greeneville and Green County too,” she said.
No more than four students are allowed in each car and they cannot get out except to use the restroom or have their prom photos taken.
Photo shoots will be done at the Prom Photo Studio on the Fairgrounds Main Stage, and free copies of the photos will be provided, according to Rose.
The event will follow guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Education, ‘COVID-19: Guidance on High School Graduation Ceremonies and Related Activities’ release.
For entertainment, music will be done by Radio Greeneville’s 95.5 The Jewel and interactive online games using cell phones will be led by DJ Robbie Britton.
Keepsake prom tickets will be available for each student who attends.
Attendees will not go empty-handed.
Rose explained, “This is totally free and they get free pics and they also get free swag bags full of all kinds of good stuff. Free t-shirts, free goodies… it’s going to be nice for them.”
“I’m just excited to get out and to see everybody and even though we’re social distancing, it’s still going to be a great time,” Greeneville High School senior, Brayden Spano said.
Spano told Pheben Kassahun that he was disappointed to hear the traditional event was canceled, when the announcement was made in mid-April.
“I was devastated because prom is something that everyone looks forward to every year and it’s just a great time. We get together with friends,” Spano said. You get to go out and dress up. You get to take pictures and it’s just a really fun thing. It’s a tradition, almost, to have it.”
His only problem now is finding a date.
“I’m always open for applications like I don’t want to go to this thing alone. Everybody’s going to have somebody. I’d like to have somebody to come with,” he said.
Students interested in attending the free-drive in prom can stop by the informational meeting that is set to take place Wednesday, May 20 at 6 p.m. at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
Volunteer and sponsors are still needed, ahead of the event. Local high school teachers are invited to volunteer as chaperones for prom. Anyone interested can contact Chan Humbert 423-329-7400 or Amy Rose at 423-525-7199.
When and Where:
United Prom 2020 will take place on Saturday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at the Greene County Fairgrounds. The theme is “We Can Build This Dream Together,” which is a lyric from the 80s hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship.
According to the press release, the lyrics, which seem appropriate for current events, include: “Let the world around us Just fall apart, Baby, we can make it, If we’re heart to heart. And we can build this dream together, Standing strong forever, Nothing’s gonna stop us now. And if this world runs out of lovers, We’ll still have each other. Nothing’s gonna stop us, Nothing’s gonna stop us now.”