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The City Journals

Murray High prom, graduation plans being set during pandemic

Mar 25, 2021 11:45AM ● By Julie Slama

Murray High juniors will have prom this spring, as pictured here from last year, with added safety precautions during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Murray High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

While many high schools are making decisions about holding year-end activities, Murray High has announced its plans for junior prom and commencement exercises.

“They will really be contingent upon how things are going on (with the COVID-19 pandemic), but if nothing catastrophic happens, we are planning our spring events now,” Murray High Principal Scott Wihongi said. 

For junior prom, some new rules are being set in place. First, only juniors at Murray High can attend, meaning they can’t ask dates from other classes nor other schools. Second, they need to test negative “a day or two” prior to the prom, he said.

“Rapid testing is a game-changer. We do rapid testing for sports so we can do it for other school activities,” he said.

The “test to sway” date will be determined by Murray High so the 465 juniors who choose to attend can test for the prom. They also need to wear masks correctly at the prom and purchase tickets online. Wihongi said that if juniors test positive, tickets will be refunded.

Currently, the April 10 junior prom is planned to be held at the state capitol, but it is still being determined if it will be in the rotunda or outside. Typically prom is held earlier, but the capitol had canceled all events before April, Wihongi said.

“If something happens where it can’t be at the capitol, our contingency plan is that it will still happen, if it falls in the COVID guidelines, even if it’s at the school,” he said. “We’re in our initial stages of planning and working with our student government on how it will look, but the Board (Murray Board of Education) members were all for it.”

Wihongi said that he expects to have volunteers at the door, overseeing if juniors have been tested with negative results and have tickets. They also may be checking temperatures and ensuring that other health and safety guidelines at the time are followed.

Mask-wearing is essential in high school activities, he said.

“We want to head back toward normal and start implementing dances and activities we can with precautions and our kids know that. They know they need to wear masks and maybe there won’t be many slow dances, but we want them to have some of the activities they can, with an extra layer of safety,” Wihongi said. “Kids know if something major changes, we may have to change our plans.”

Last year, Murray High held prom five days before the school district closed schools March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A graduation ceremony also is in its preliminary planning stage, with the ceremony set at 1 p.m., Thursday, May 27 in Murray High’s football stadium. 

“I don’t know of many of the larger arenas being available right now, but we’re starting our planning,” Wihongi said. “Kids in classrooms wear masks all day so it’s logical that wearing masks is the key. If we don’t start holding our own structured events, kids may start holding their own without some of these structures in place. It’s time they can attend these high school occasions and they’re safer if we hold these events.”