“Here We Go Again”: Prom Makes Its Return

With the lifting of COVID restrictions, Summit’s classic celebration is back


Taken by Mindy Mendenhall

Lina McDonald, Staff Writer

After a two-year hiatus, Summit juniors and seniors finally got to experience prom as it ought to be—complete with DJs, free drinks and an abundance of 2000s-throwback music. Back by popular demand, Summit’s “Mamma Mia-themed” Prom 2022 was bound to be a unique experience as the first school-sanctioned dance since the pandemic’s beginning in 2020. 

A radiant sense of joy filled the dance floor as everyone was able to celebrate together after the pandemic-enforced break from school. Students and teachers alike were elated to be there and let loose with peers. Like many others, senior Gretchen Marx was unable to enjoy the experience last year due to COVID but got to attend along with her peers for Prom 2022.

“Having an actual prom was such a big step towards normal for us,” Marx said. “The fact that we were able to come together and have a prom really spoke to how hard we’ve worked as a community to come out of COVID.”

“Seeing people from other schools that I haven’t seen in a while was a highlight,” said junior Soren Chopra, who attended with his friends. “There hasn’t been a school social event since COVID began, and it gave an opportunity for a ton of people to connect. It’s a great social opportunity. Having a school formal, dressing up, it’s important for us.”

With well over 700 students in attendance—a Storm record—it’s clear that a return to teenage normalcy was needed by everyone. 

“We had already pre-sold 550 tickets, and we have even more people here than expected,” Summit Activities Director Sarah Warsaw said. “Luckily, Mountain View and Bend High had their proms the previous weekend, and so we had their numbers to go off of. Especially after the last couple years, we were prepared for a lot of students. We knew it would be full.” Thankfully, the Pavilion—this year’s choice of venue—was well equipped to accommodate the influx of attendees.

Following the last two school years’ strict COVID protocols, gathering such a large group of students together seemed like a faraway possibility. To ensure a more positive experience for everyone attending, Summit’s prom coordination team opted to have this year’s celebration out in the open. Hosting the prom at an outdoor venue meant that students could relax next to fire pits or show off their dancing and jiving abilities, along with ensuring proper circulation throughout the night.

“I do like the outdoor setting because there’s fresh air. It definitely helps to reduce particles floating around,” said Summit administrator Darci Michaud. However, even with the outside venue, some students expressed concern about the prom’s lack of COVID safety procedures, especially amid the rising number of cases in Deschutes County. For some individuals, experiencing prom how it should have been pre-COVID was irrelevant in favor of community safety. One attendee who decided to mask up, student Ellie Ocel, cautioned against behaving too rashly in the face of recently-lifted restrictions.

“I noticed one person other than my group wearing a mask. At superspreaders like this, people should be required to wear a mask,” Ocel said. “It felt very unsafe.” At the same time, gathering a large group of students together would inevitably be a risk, no matter the circumstances.

“I don’t know if they really could have held a prom that followed every COVID protocol,” said junior Paige Leonardo. “It was in a space that was largely outside, and the dance floor was very large, so people could space out if they wanted to. There hasn’t been an actual prom in about two years, which makes this one so special, a little bit of a celebration of COVID protocols loosening up.”

With the return of prom also came the return of prom court. Every year, seniors are given recommendations by their teachers, and ten students are eventually voted on to the court by fellow upperclassmen. The court got to enjoy their victory dance with ABBA’s timelessly fitting classic, “Dancing Queen,” playing in the background. Getting chosen for prom court was particularly special this year with the break from the celebration, in addition to this being the first prom experience for all prom royalty.

“Getting voted onto prom court was super exciting,” said senior Lola Jarrette, one of the ten seniors picked for prom royalty. “I enjoyed seeing all my friends and everyone dressed up! it’s crazy to think that just over a year ago we were doing school online and now we’re all together at our senior prom.”

In the wake of a two-year-long pause, Summit’s 2022 Prom was a night to remember and a special experience for everyone who attended.

“The feedback I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive,” Warsaw said. “Every kid walked in smiling.”