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Crystal Lake High School District 155 canceled its prom following Gov. JB Pritzker's news conference announcing the expansion of his stay-at-home order, meant to stem the spread of the COVID-19, to April 30.
In a letter to parents by Superintendent Steve Olson posted to the district's Facebook page, after the governor's announcement, District 155's leadership team had a conference call to talk about future events.
"I have raised four teenagers and I know from experience how difficult it is to disappoint our kids," Olson wrote, before announcing that the district decided to cancel prom "as we continue to follow state and federal orders."
"To our students, this decision was not made lightly as we know many of you look forward to this memorable high school experience. To our seniors, we understand this is an opportunity for you to celebrate your last four years together," Olson wrote. "But right now, in the midst of a global crisis, it would be irresponsible of us to allow you to participate in prom and risk your health and safety."
More information would be sent to Crystal Lake South families about refunding prom tickets, Olson wrote in the email.
Graduation still is scheduled for May 16.
"We have every intention of hosting a graduation ceremony as it is the culmination of our students’ hard work for the past four years," Olson wrote. "We will continue to follow state and federal orders and will postpone graduation and/or make modifications if necessary to ensure our students participate in commencement."
District spokesperson Shannon Podzimek said this is a fluid situation, and the health and well-being of students and staff will continue to be the top priority as they make decisions moving forward.
One parent, Wendy Pratola, who has two daughters at Prairie Ridge High School, one a junior and the other a senior, is asking the district to move the prom to a different date.
"I am not trying to bombard an already overwhelmed school district, nor am I trying to push them to keep the prom date that they originally had," she told the Northwest Herald on Wednesday. "I am merely suggesting that they postpone the prom to commencement weekend rather than canceling it altogether."
In an email to Olson, Pratola said while the news is devastating for the students, they are managing it "really well overall."
She wrote in the email that it would not be that big of a deal if this were just a typical dance.
"But, parents and/or kids saved up their hard earned money to buy their kids a dress or suit/tuxedo and these things are not cheap nor refundable," Pratola wrote. "Most prom dresses cost in the ballpark of $500. That is not including any of the accessories or shoes or anything else they might have bought along the way. We are not wealthy people and my daughters worked and saved up for months to purchase their dresses."
In her email, she said she fully understands that COVID-19 is a pandemic, and that it is not safe for students to gather at this point.
"I’m in full agreement with that," she said. "But I also feel it is not OK to cancel their prom forever. So, my request is that you reschedule the prom to the weekend of commencement, whenever that commencement may be. ... If we can safely gather to celebrate our children’s graduation then there is no reason why the kids can’t safely gather after the graduation and celebrate with a dance."
In the email, Pratola said she knows it might be difficult to secure a venue, and suggested having the prom at the school, or a local venue.
"These kids are already missing out on many 'lasts' this year," she wrote. "Last athletic season, last choir concert, last play, last club meetings, etc. Let’s see if we can save their prom."