Petitioning for prom

Students across FCPS are speaking out about prom

Swetha Manimaran, A&E Editor

Numerous Fairfax County students have come together to create a petition to have a prom this year. Last year’s seniors had their prom cancelled due to COVID-19, this year, the Class of 2021 wants a chance to celebrate their end of the year.

“The petition was created this week, so it’s fairly new. It was created by the FCPS Senior Events Committee, which is headed up by myself and three other seniors from other high schools, [as well as] school board members and adult leaders from across the county” senior Eliana Durkee said.

The petition was created after Governor Ralph Northam announced only the guidelines for graduation and did not address prom. Northam stated the rules for outdoor and indoor venue occupancy.

“The total number of persons for indoor venues cannot exceed the lesser of 30 percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 500 persons,”Northam said in his preliminary guidelines regarding commencement ceremonies. “The total number of persons for outdoor venues cannot exceed the lesser of 30 percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 5,000 persons.”

Like many FCPS students, Durkee was upset with the lack of mention of prom and brought up the consequences of cancelling prom for a second year.

“If schools aren’t allowed to host proms, students will hold their own unsafe and exclusive proms,” Durkee said. “These events will become COVID-spreaders and moreover, the students who choose to prioritize safety will take a hit to their mental health as they watch their peers get a moment of closure they won’t have. Schools hosting prom is important to make prom this year safe and equitable.”

While some students believe holding a prom is the safer option, many students see it as a health concern.

“It’s irresponsible for schools to be holding prom at this time when they could be taking that money that is going to be spent and turning it into scholarship money or even small gift cards to Starbucks,” senior Tess Mellinger said. “A big party isn’t what would make up for our senior year being taken away. Cancelling finals, grade [leniency] for students who are suffering with the new environment, or something simple would be way better.”

Other students were concerned with the safety of an end of the year prom.

“We all wish we could have prom, but it is very clearly unsafe. It is unlikely that everyone would follow the set guidelines. There’s no way to make it completely safe,” senior Tallisen Scott said.

The petition, which can be accessed on, has racked up 460 votes and counting. The current goal of the petition is to reach 500 votes.

“We don’t have a definite goal after the signatures,” Durkee said. “We just wanted a platform where seniors, parents, and others can show their support.”