GARDNER, Kan. — Alesia Gomez has two children who attend Gardner Edgerton High School. When students returned to in-person learning, she called school district officials to ask if the school would host a prom in the spring.
“I have called especially when they announced they were going back to school to find out if they were going to end up planning anything, because I know some of the other districts have planned a prom. They said absolutely they were not,” Gomez said.
In response, Gomez began coordinating a private prom not affiliated with the school. Gomez connected with more than 300 parents and students through Facebook to organize an unofficial, off-campus prom for Gardner Edgerton High School Juniors and Seniors.
“It is for the kids so it doesn’t get stolen from them like it did the last years Seniors and Juniors,” Gomez said. “The Juniors from last year didn’t get anything and if they didn’t have this this year, they would have nothing.”
The prom is currently being paid for through donations from parents and community sponsors.
Gomez said because the prom has only been advertised through word of mouth, she doesn’t anticipate every member of the Junior and Senior class will attend. She said if attendance were to exceed 300 people, the prom will be moved to a larger event hall.
The prom theme will be “Alice in Wonderland.” Students are required to purchase their tickets online prior to the night of the dance.
Gomez said she has received pushback from other parents and people in the community who say the event is unsafe. She said students who attend the prom will be asked to use their best judgement with regards to COVID safety precautions. Gomez said face masks will be recommended, but not required for entry into the event.
“This wasn’t a mandated prom. They can come, they can not come. It’s for whoever feels safe enough to come,” Gomez said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed distancing guidelines to reduce the distance between students in classrooms from six feet to three feet. However the CDC still recommends avoiding large in-person gatherings.
FOX4 reached out to the Gardner Edgerton School District 231, but did not receive a response.
The prom is scheduled for May 8 at the Warren Place in Gardner. More information on the event can be found on the 2021 Junior/Senior Prom GEHS Facebook page.