HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: A high school rite of passage can make a lifetime of memories


Prom. Just the sound of that word brings back a flood of memories: the “vital” decision of whether to go with a date or a group of friends, the thrill of finding the perfect dress, the weeks of anticipation as you make reservations for hair, corsages, and dinner, the buzz in the hallways at school filled with conversations of who is going with whom, what everyone is wearing, and where to go for pictures, the countdown to when you will feel like royalty and dance the night away in some sort of Cinderella landscape. 

Yes, I’m sure some of my memories are accurate while others have had their blemishes polished away over the past 25 years. 

When my best friend, Jen, recently pulled out old photos of the prom we helped to organize as juniors in 1995, I couldn’t help but smile.
There we were in our formal dresses with our hair full of hairspray, our feet squeezed into ill-fitting shoes, and our smiles so deep I’m sure our cheeks hurt by the end of the night. 

Looking at those pictures makes me remember the girl I was before the reality of being an adult set in. 

For many high school students, prom is a rite of passage. 

Movies, grown-ups, and stereotypes illustrate a night of celebration where high school students have one last “hoorah” before Graduation. 

For this year’s juniors and seniors, the anticipation is real.

Juniors were freshmen and seniors were sophomores in March 2020 when the “world

shut down” so they have had their high school years clouded by the Covid Pandemic. 

No prom was held in Waynesboro in 2020 due to the global lockdown and closure of schools. 

Last year, the Class of 2022 put together an incredible event in the WASHS football stadium, despite the limitations from Covid, masks, and social distancing. They certainly made lemonade with the lemons they had been dealt. 

This year life at the high school has somewhat returned to normal. Extracurricular events have been met with open arms by the student body, not only because they weren’t held last year, but also because there was a limit on who or how many people could attend. All those gatherings many of us remember fondly – basketball and football games, homecoming festivities, band and choir concerts, and the All-School Production – have returned and we have been reminded of how good it feels to be a part of them. 

In May, Waynesboro Area Senior High School will hold its first off-campus prom since 2019 at Green Grove Gardens, organized by the current junior class.

To say that the excitement for this event has been building since the first day of school would be an understatement. 

Girls started buying their dresses in December (some even earlier!). They have been making hair appointments or picking up-dos endlessly. Prom-posal ideas have been tossed around (yes, even asking someone to the prom is a big event!). One senior recently reminded me that she is not only excited for her first off-campus prom but also because she will be able to bring her boyfriend who graduated last year. Outside guests and underclassmen were not permitted at last year’s prom and outside guests were not permitted for homecoming in the fall. 

As the co-advisor of the Class of 2023, my year has been filled with a do-do list about five miles long: reserve the venue, find a DJ and photographer, brainstorm with a decorator, decide on snacks, pick out favors, etc. Not only that but also work with the students to raise funds for the much-anticipated event. 

Luckily the members of the junior executive council have been on-board to fundraise in any capacity we can – we have sent letters to businesses requesting donations, painted faces at football games, had a movie event at the Waynesboro Theater, sold spirit wear for the basketball student section, ordered Stickies from the Penn State Diner, and will hold a car wash on April 16 at Advanced Auto. 

You see, the price of an off-campus prom is quite daunting, and, due to the pandemic, fundraising last year was pretty nonexistent. 

These students are determined to hold a formal event that will celebrate the Class of 2022 as well as recognize their own classmates for how they have persevered through a high school journey unlike any we have ever experienced.

And yes, these students deserve to be celebrated.

They deserve to have a night where they feel like a million bucks, where the smiles on their faces are so deep their cheeks hurt, where their feet ache the next day from dancing all night, where their phones are filled with selfies and group shots they will cherish for years to come, and where their final days of high school will be flooded with laughter and good times. 

Although the next month of my life might feel a little stressful as the Prom Countdown continues (38 days), I’m also going to take the time to listen and watch the excitement for the big event grow.

To listen to the details they are planning.

To see pictures of the dresses they are so eager to wear.

To offer a high five after the perfect “Prom-posal”

To help them with ideas on how to make the night special

Sure, my prom was more than 25-years ago, but it’s still a night I look back on with a happy heart – I want it to be the same for them. 

Emily Dickey is a Waynesboro native who run for fun and always looks for an opportunity to spread the sunshine.

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