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Opinion: The pain of a prom-less goodbye

'Now that it’s gone. The community has organized a parade, but that only allows looking at each other from afar, not able to satiate the need for up-close connection.'
There will be no prom for Squamish grads this year — again — due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Prom is not always a part of the high school experience. I know this, and people continue to point it out to me.

Although it’s not necessary, the generations before us have had their own prom, and those of us graduating now have been talking about ours for years. We’ve spent most of our lives in school, looking forward to what is supposed to be the magnificent end — it’s devastating for some of us that prom has been taken away.

Because of COVID-19, everything has changed.

I’m going to be leaving Squamish, living by myself, as an adult, in just a few short months.

That’s a lot of pressure. Having this one event could have provided some relief — knowing that I’d have one last night to make memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life gave me hope.

Now that it’s gone. The community has organized a parade, but that only allows looking at each other from afar, not able to satiate the need for up-close connection.

I know that the school year will end and fade into summer, which will pass, and then suddenly I’ll be gone, thrust into a life of adulthood.

Beyond what I saw for myself, prom was also supposed to be our chance to see our group of peers as equals for one night as we look toward our future, rather than as strangers passing in the halls filled with unspoken anxieties.

Prom offered a night free from judgment that is ever-present in lingering eyes at school.

I saw prom as a way for everyone to understand that we’re all the same; in graduating, we all face some of the same fears.

It’s a time to see our peers as people, to see that they have futures as well, and to see that there’s so much more to life than high school.

This is more important than some might think. This month is the last chance to redeem what has been, for some, the worst years of their lives.

We’re all saying goodbye to something. Some are saying goodbye to missed chances, to relationships gone wrong and relationships gone right, to the people they never spoke to, and to the versions of ourselves that we’re leaving in the past.

Of course, it’s all in good intentions that the prom was cancelled. I’m not saying that we should break COVID-19 regulations to have a huge prom.

It’s saddening and sometimes lonely to see a very unsatisfactory end, and it’s incredibly hard to find closure these days.

Prom is not only a romanticized event for recreation and partying; it’s our last chance to celebrate our lives together.

This is not only the ending of a single year, it’s the ending of more than a decade of our lives spent in school.

In an age when we see so much tragedy and are expected to change the world, we leave high school with a heavy weight on our shoulders and were only looking for a short reprieve from the stress the past years have brought.

Through everything COVID has given and taken from us, we have emerged on the other side, looking at a future beyond this. We must say farewell to the people and the lives we can’t take with us into the future. Although we will not have our traditional prom to assist us in moving on to the next chapter, we have to try and find closure in our own ways.

Goodbye to the graduating class of 2021.

 Emily Rice is a Grade 12 student at Howe Sound Secondary and she interned at The Chief.