What a difference a year makes.
West Hancock High School students, their families, and school staff enjoyed a memorable 2021 prom after the annual event was canceled last year due to COVID-19. The theme that was intended for last year, Rustic Romance, became this year’s motif.
The high school gymnasium was decorated with a dinner-style candlelit elegance where student participants in the 2021 grand march were able to parade past the filled tables and chairs on the hardwood floor. Other spectators filled bleachers on both sides of the gym.
“Things came together so well for the 2021 prom,” said Autumn Weaver, West Hancock High School faculty member and one of the junior class sponsors for this year’s prom. “The junior class did a wonderful job of tying things together and put on a beautiful night.”
Nearly 100 students participated in the grand march, followed by a dance and post-prom events. Shae Smith was crowned prom queen and Owen Leerar was crowned prom king. Members of the royal court include queen candidates Shayna Ostercamp, Ann Horstman, Shae Smith, and Ramzee Brown as well as king candidates Owen Leerar, Collin Ford, Derek Oberhelman, and Chance Eden.
Mojo Productions provided disc jockey services. Kamryn Eckels and Sydney Tue served as announcers during the grand march. Junior class sponsors include Weaver, Jennifer Rosin, Kelly Winter, Brian Peterson, and Richard Clark. Junior class officers include President Mathew Francis, Vice President Scout Johanson, Secretary Parker Hiscocks, and Treasurer Leah Aitchison. Other junior students who helped included Sydeny Myers, Paige Kudej, Brayden Langfitt, Max Whipple, and Kennedy Kelly.
Numerous junior class parents, school custodial staff, Kristi DeWaard, Paul Francis, and Beth Gretillat also helped with preparations.
Jennifer Rosin and Weaver were chosen to spearhead preparations for the prom this year. They were both new to the prom planning and coordination process, but received lots of support. Weaver said the junior officers completed much of the work and some other junior class members stepped up to help. With the vision of greenery, flowers, and burlap, they started putting ideas on paper.
“Kristi DeWaard donated a ton of her time and own supplies to help coordinate and decorate for the event,” Weaver said. “She was the glue to help Jennifer and I decorate for the event. Her husband built the lanterns for each table.”
Many parents, families, and community members provided donations to make this year’s events and decorations possible. Decorating became a large investment of time, money, and resources. Weaver said that decorating started on the Wednesday night before prom with the ceiling detail. More decorating continued on the day before prom with a select group of students being allowed to decorate the gym during the school day.
“We were able to use a lot of the ideas from last year,’ said Weaver. “However, the junior class put their own twist on things. They put their heads together to build the front stage decorations and collected donations to start the decorations of the tables.”
Many junior students commented on how beautiful and simple the night was. They also mentioned how fun a hypnotist performance was as part of the night’s prom festivities.
“Because of the COVID restrictions and constant changes with regulations, we didn't know if prom would even take place this year,” Weaver said. “We came back from winter break and discussed the ability for prom to take place and the planning process started. We were so happy to give the kids something normal."
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at email@example.com.