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Local

NHS cancels prom

Newton High School prom dates introduce themselves during prom night 2019 on the high school auditorium stage. Participants took turns walking to the middle of the stage and posing for photos. Due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, prom has been cancelled this year.
Newton High School prom dates introduce themselves during prom night 2019 on the high school auditorium stage. Participants took turns walking to the middle of the stage and posing for photos. Due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, prom has been cancelled this year.

Senior Blake Sevenbergen was sitting in his basement watching a movie when his mother Ange asked him to come upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Sevenbergen learned that Newton Senior High School’s 2020 Prom had been canceled.

“You know when you get told something and you don’t have a reaction right away? That’s kind of how it was. I didn’t know how to react,” Sevenbergen said. “I was kind of in shock. I still can’t believe we aren’t getting a senior prom. It’s so crazy what we are all dealing with right now.”

Fellow senior Allie Norvell also got the bad news from her mom, Jen, but she had prepared herself for the worst possible outcome anyway.

“I already had a feeling prom would be canceled because everything around us was, too,” Norvell said. “Being a senior sucks right now because everything we’ve worked for is being taken away from us.”

Administrators at NHS made the tough decision to cancel prom last week because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the fluidity of the situation, NHS Principal Bill Peters said things such as concerts, programs and athletic assemblies also could be affected.

The decision to cancel prom was a double-edged sword, according to Peters.

“It was an easy decision because clearly it’s the right thing to do regarding student and staff safety,” Peters said. “But it was a very hard decision in terms of disappointing the kids and the staff who have already made preparations and were looking forward to their last prom.

“As this virus continues to gain a strong foothold, we will have to analyze all events and determine what’s absolutely necessary and what’s not.”

Sevenbergen and Norvell understand the decision that was made. They both would have loved having their senior prom in the summer, but Peters said it’s nearly impossible to reschedule it with all the other events that happen at the end of the school year.

“I would go to prom in July if that was my only option,” Sevenbergen said. “It’s disappointing knowing it’s my senior year. I know it’s not something they took lightly. They want us to have a prom. I just wish we had an alternate option.”

Sevenbergen said he has talked with some of his senior classmates and they are trying to put together an event in June that can maybe take the place of prom, but nothing has been finalized yet. Norvell said there is a chance a prom-like event can take place sometime in June at another venue. Peters said the school district doesn’t have any plans for an alternate event at this time.

“We just don’t know what the future holds, and we are nearing graduation,” Peters said. “I don’t want to provide false hope to the kids and have yet another let down if a dance can’t be held.”

Baxter High School Principal Rob Luther said his school district is holding tight on a decision for now. Right now, schools are closed everywhere through April 12 and Baxter’s prom is slated to take place the weekend after that.

“If school gets delayed even more we will continue to look at later options,” Luther said. “We do not want to cancel it, though.”

Prairie City-Monroe High School has postponed its prom. PCM High School Principal Kristen Souza said they will use guidance from the state to make their final decision, but a make-up date has not yet been decided.

Colfax-Mingo Principal Todd Jones said his school district has not made a decision on its prom but expects to decide sometime in the near future.

Norvell isn’t just missing out on her senior prom. She also plays soccer for the Cardinals and that season is currently in limbo. Sevenbergen plays baseball for Newton. No one knows if the pandemic will venture all the way into summer sports yet.

“For me, all I want to do is play my senior soccer season, and I am unsure if I even will be able to,” Norvell said. “Something that has been getting me through this is reminding myself to pray more and worry less. Nothing gets done complaining and stressing over things.

“Having a prom in June or July is something I would look forward to because it will be our last chance to see all of our high school friends before going our separate ways.”

Other events in the school district are expected to be canceled, too, as the rules of this pandemic keep changing.

“I apologize for what has already been lost and the losses that will undoubtedly come,” Peters said. “I wish I could fix it all. This is not the senior year we promise you. What this virus can’t take is the years of great memories you and your classmates have created while at NHS. You and your classmates will talk about this year at the 50th class reunion. A dance or a track meet are not what’s important. It’s the relationships you created that will last a lifetime.”

Contact Troy Hyde at 641-792-3121 ext. 6536 or thyde@newtondailynews.com

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