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CNN spoke to high school students across the country to see what a prom in a new normal looks like

“At first no one really knew whether to dance,” Miranda Myers said of her prom at Lee’s Summit High School, adding the dance floor soon filled up. (Courtesy Jessica Brown)

Just a few months ago, many of this year’s high schoolers didn’t know if there would be a prom to mark the end of another unusual year.

Among the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a loss of some of the final moments of adolescence: gathering for football games, sitting in the lunchroom with friends and accepting a diploma onstage in front of loved ones.

But in a time marked by uncertainty and change, this phase of the pandemic looks a lot different than it once did. Vaccines are now available to adolescents as young as 12, and more than 50% of the US population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. The daily average of reported Covid-19 cases has dropped below 20,000 — down from more than 250,000 in January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

America’s progress against the virus has brought back long-awaited milestones: weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and for many students, a return of their end-of-the-year prom. While it looked different than most years, administrators said they worked hard to make it feel as much the same as they could.

“The thing about Covid is not only did we miss out on things, but we haven’t been able to mark the last years of high school with any milestones,” Kingston High School senior Morgan Halady said. “When I finally got to get out of my house … I finally felt like a senior. I finally felt some of that closure — like this is it.”

CNN spoke to students from Conard High School in Connecticut, Lee’s Summit High School in Missouri and Kingston High School in Washington State to see what a prom in a new normal looks like.

Most years, senior prom is a chance to get dressed up and celebrate a major transition surrounded by friends. But for this year’s senior class, it has taken on a much bigger meaning.


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