In spring 2020, at the height (or depth) of the pandemic, Kerrigan Hawthorne and her friends at Preston High School found themselves in Prom Purgatory.
Everything in the state was shuttered and shut down, with most people quarantining at home, so you could forget about the social event of high school.
You could forget about the expensive dress and the fancy corsage and the rented tux — sure to have food or drink spilled on it in some form during the course of the evening — and those cellphone snaps in front of the fireplace for Grandma, too.
Like a slow dance near the end of the evening, it was all gone in a whisper.
Well, check that. It wasn’t gone completely for Kerrigan and her crew. She and her friends still got glamorous in their gowns.
Their dates still wriggled into those tuxes.
And they still gathered, using that reaching-out byproduct of the pandemic: Zoom.
As it turned out, the teleconferencing technology did pretty well for an improvised, coronavirus version of prom that year.
“It was actually kind of nice,” said the then-senior, who would go on to major in communication science at WVU. “We were still together.”
With the 2022 prom season on the calendar, the gatherings set for Morgantown High, University High and Clay-Battelle are back the same-as-it-ever-was zone.
Morgantown High’s prom will be April 23 at the Waterfront Place Hotel. The Erickson Alumni Center will be the site of University High’s prom May 7.
Clay-Battelle’s prom is also that evening at the Bailey Barns Venue, in neighboring Fairview. And Preston High’s is April 30.
After three years of pandemic upheaval, Donna Talerico, the deputy superintendent of Mon Schools, said she likes the return of those normal rhythms and benchmarks to the district.
Even if that certain word, she said, now must carry a pre-existing caveat for a generation of students that have lived in circumstances that are anything but.
“It’s our ‘new normal,’” she said at a recent school board meeting.
“Our field trips are back. We’re getting ready for prom. We want our students, and our seniors, especially, to be able to experience everything they can this year.”