Niles West High School rolls out red carpet for prom despite pandemic

SKOKIE, Ill. (WLS) -- The red carpet was rolled out Saturday night, just steps from the Niles West High School football field, leading students to taste of normalcy during what has been a far-from-normal school year.

"I've been waiting for, you know, since I was a freshman for this; so I'm really, really excited and I'm, once again, just really glad that I get the opportunity to do this," said one of the prom-goers.

High school prom, for most, has been a time-honored tradition that allows students to celebrate the end of the school year dressed in their best.

However, just months ago, the pandemic didn't afford these students that certainty.

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"I'm really thankful that something that I didn't think that we were going to get to do at the beginning of the year. I was mentally preparing myself for no prom or graduation, so being able to get either of those is something that I'm very appreciative for sure," said Niles West senior Alliyah Lipsit.

Niles West school officials said that despite that uncertainty at the beginning of the year, they put prom plans in place in hopes restrictions would lift as more people got vaccinated.

"The approach we took was, let's plan for what the current restrictions are and then we could modify as we go," said Katie Odell, Niles West High School director of student activities.

A month ago, Niles West officially gave the green light with a few modifications, including temperature checks, boxed meals and moving the party outdoors.

"We're getting that sense of normalcy back, and I think they're just happy to get to see the friends, get to just do some of those normal senior events," Odell added.

While this prom has brought back some normalcy, the eveningwear accessories also gave these students a unique memory separating them from the proms of year's past.

"We were talking about pictures and we were like, we need to get pictures with all of our masks on, because when we show our kids, our grandkids - whatever, you know. We got to make sure that we're like, this is what was different about our prom," Lipsit said.
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