What prom, graduations might look like for Illinois high schoolers this year

Coronavirus

SKOKIE, Ill – With the threat of the coronavirus still looming, a senior attending Niles West High School tells WGN she feels her class won’t get the senior year experience they deserve. 

Due to the pandemic, Niles West High School will have to forego some senior class traditions for the second year in a row.

“It sucks being a senior knowing that your friends from other schools are doing everything to have their senior year,” said senior Magdalena Soldo. “It obviously can’t go back to normal but they’re a lot closer than what we are.”

Soldo says prom will be different – in activity and capacity – from year’s past.

“They just decided they’re going to have music but no dancing,” she said, alluding that many students may skip the festivities altogether.

Graduation won’t be much better, she says. 

“Our graduation is now split in between two times,” Soldo said. “First half of the alphabet by last name starts at 11 a.m. And the second half is at 3 p.m.”

At Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, officials are taking a different approach.  

Senior prom, scheduled for the end of May, is in full effect but the 250 seniors in attendance will have to wear masks and get prescreened.  

“We are always concerned about COVID,” said Brad Bonham, president of Carmel Catholic High School. “Not only for the kids but for their families and everyone, so they test negative. Coupled with that, we do a symptom app, so they will self-report if they have symptoms related to COVID, and they’ll do a temperature check before they walk in to see if there’s a fever.” 

Bonham says he saw firsthand how devastating it was for students across the country last year. 

This year, the high school will hold an in-person graduation ceremony.

“There will be limited tickets as well per student but immediate family are encouraged to attend and then we will have a video live stream as well,” Bonham said.

Soldo says she wishes her school district would have planned better for her senior class. While she doesn’t intend on seeing all of her graduating friends, she used the opportunity to wish them well.

“Love you guys. We pulled through,” she said. “We are strong. We did it.”

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