Autumn Kegeris has watched as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken away what would have been the most memorable moments of her kids’ years in high school.
Her daughters no longer can look forward to dancing at their senior prom or even walking across the stage to receive their diplomas in front of all of their classmates, family and friends.
On April 3, SHS canceled its annual prom, which originally was scheduled for April 24 and then was moved to May 15. The decision to cancel was made after the state announced schools could not reopen this school year due to the coronavirus.
Principal Greg Prange said it was heartbreaking to have to deliver the news.
“We are living in an unprecedented time and going through an unprecedented event. History is being written, not repeated,” he said. “While we wish to salvage as much of the wonderfulness and memories that high school entails, we will not do it at the expense of the health of our students, our staff and our families.”
The impact of school closings, social distancing and remote learning put into place in March has been devastating for students, especially seniors, who won’t get a second chance next school year to attend prom or the senior dinner.
SHS officials now are making plans for a virtual awards day May 14 and virtual graduation ceremony May 31.
Kegeris said she can’t fix graduation, but she can, with the help of the community, organize a prom for SHS juniors and seniors.
“I have two daughters that are seniors and a son that is a junior,” she said. “When they canceled the prom, they were crushed. Both of my girls have already bought their dresses, and my son has already picked out his tux to match his girlfriend’s dress.”
That’s why Kegeris decided she couldn’t just sit back and do nothing.
On April 19, she posted her idea on Facebook and began to get support from other parents. Through an online fundraiser, she has raised $1,360.
“I started the fundraiser hoping people would help, but I’ve been surprised at how much people have helped,” she said.
Her original goal was $2,000, but she recently increased it to $3,000 to cover expenses, including renting a banquet hall facility, hiring a disc jockey, a photographer and security and purchasing refreshments, decorations and event insurance.
“I am quickly finding that the $2,000 will not cover all of the costs,” she said. “I need people to help me by donations of money or time.”
She also is looking for volunteers to help chaperone and decorate.
The more money raised, the fancier the event can be, she said.
Anyone wanting to donate can do so at the Prom 2020 for Juniors and Seniors of Seymour High School Facebook fundraiser page. She also created the Senior Prom 2020 Facebook page to keep people updated and to share ideas.
Kegeris said the event is scheduled for July 31 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown. She was able to book the facility Friday after Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his plan to begin easing restrictions on travel, closures and public gatherings over the next few weeks.
“These kids deserve to have a fun ending to a crazy year,” Kegeris said. “Let’s give our seniors one last get-together.”
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To donate to parent Autumn Kegeris’ efforts to organize a 2020 prom for Seymour High School juniors and seniors, go to the Prom 2020 for Juniors and Seniors of Seymour High School Facebook fundraiser page or the Senior Prom 2020 Facebook page for updates, to share ideas and help with planning.