For high school students across the globe, end of year events like graduation and prom are looking almost unrecognizable from previous years. With social distancing mandates—due to the coronavirus pandemic—prohibiting groups from gathering, schools can't legally host dances or events.
But for Unalaska High School, that red tape won't be stopping students from celebrating. This Saturday, May 2, high school students will have the chance to attend Vrom, or virtual prom.
''A virtual prom—where kids that can't get together in a gymnasium to listen to music together, can dance and they can hopefully get the feeling that they're together,'' said Brenden McEldery, IT Coordinator at Unalaska City School and creator of the event. ''This is the one year it's cool to have your mom as a prom date, or dad.''
Inspired by similar events he saw online, McEldery decided the Graduating Class of 2020, as well as the rest of the high school student population, deserved some kind of celebration after facing a challenging year of overwhelming loss in the community.
Following the tragic loss of senior Alexis Magalong earlier this year, as well as the loss of Karly McDonald and Kiara Renteria Haist last spring, the Class of 2020 has been worn thin emotionally. In combination with the abrupt loss of recent graduate and local Trey Henning this February, the likely cancellation of graduation and prom came as a disheartening closure to a devastating year.
But for McEldery, the cancellation of prom emerged not as a hurdle, but as an opportunity to give back to these resilient students.
''We're just trying to find ways to give back to these kids that have had a tremendous year of loss to having the last little bit of their senior year stripped away,'' said McEldery.
In collaboration with Carlos Tayag—a local DJ known as Decametric Noise Storms—and KUCB, McEldery is organizing and hosting a prom-themed dance party Saturday night at 7 p.m. As usual, Unalaskans can tune into Channel 8 to watch a live stream of the dance party.
However, for high school students who would like to virtually attend Vrom, a private Zoom meeting has been set up where they can join others and be featured on Channel 8.
In order for students to participate, parents or guardians must sign a Media Disclosure Agreement before receiving a code to enter the meeting.
McEldery said he would ideally like to have MDAs signed and returned by Wednesday evening, along with song requests and nominations for Vrom king and queen.