Steppin' out: NHS moves prom to the park

Chad Frey
The Kansan

For the first time since the construction of the current high school, the Newton High School prom was hosted someplace other than Ravenscroft Gymnasium. 

May 1 the annual event — which was canceled entirely in 2020 due to COVID-19 — was hosted at Athletic Park in an effort to have the dance while allowing students to observe social distancing rules. 

Prom was cancelled last year. This is the first time the prom has been moved off school grounds.

"We moved it to the park to make it safer knowing that being inside we were more likely to have an outbreak of Covid," said principal Caleb Smith. "With it being so close to graduation, I'd hate to have issues due to Prom with our seniors that attended.  Many of the students and parents loved the new way but I'm not sure if it'll be outside next year. That will be up to the Prom team and next year's Junior Class leadership." 

For the first time since the construction of the current high school, the Newton High School prom was hosted someplace other than Ravenscroft Gymnasium.

It was the first of three high-profile spring events to be moved off of the school grounds this year. The day following the prom the annual All-District Band Concert was hosted in Athletic Park in conjunction with a fund-raising hog roast. May 22 commencement, which his traditionally hosted at Fischer Field or the high school will be moved to Hartman Arena in Park City. 

In the past 30 years, graduation has been moved from the Fischer Field location only twice unrelated to weather. Both times the event was at Newton High School — during renovations to Fischer Field graduation was moved to the practice field/track at the school. Last year the ceremony was in front of the school for the drive-thru ceremony due to COVID-19.

Traditionally graduation is moved inside to the high school in the case of rain — however due to social distancing rules administration did not believe that possible this year. 

The school has created a ticketing process for graduation at the 5,000 seat arena. 

"We were able to give 10 tickets per graduate, minimum, Smith said.  "Some opted to take less so we will be doing a "lottery" of sorts with those leftover tickets, so some families will end up with more than 10 if they are selected in the lottery. We are excited to be able to have it without fear of weather causing us to move inside and turn people away that had traveled to Newton for the celebration."  

For that change to happen, there was a need for help from the community. 

"After cancelling last year’s prom, we were glad to give our students the opportunity to participate in a little slice of normalcy. We moved prom outside to promote better social distancing, so we needed some extra help from the community," said Samantha Anderson. 

Traditionally speaking prom is hosted in Ravenscroft Gymnasium at Newton High School, with a group of students creating a theme — and using the upper deck of the gymnasium to create decorations for the event. 

This year, however,  the need was different. Prom organizers turned to B&B Lumber and  Sand Creek Summer Daze Festival  for the use of eight outdoor tents and yard games for the event.

May 1 the annual NHS prom — which was canceled entirely in 2020 due to COVID-19 — was hosted at Athletic Park..

Also helping create the event that evening were parent volunteers, Chilly Goat, Taco Mike’s, D&J Pronto Pups, NHS' Culinary Class. photographer Cassandra Schmidt, Citizen's State Bank and the Rotary Club of Newton all donated time, talents and funding for the prom. 

"We feel so grateful to have such an amazing wealth of support for our students and schools. Thank you, Newton community," Anderson said.

Prom organizers turned to B&B Lumber and  Sand Creek Summer Daze Festival  for the use of eight outdoor tents and yard games for the event.

Prom was a part of a busy weekend in the area — Hesston High School hosted a youth track meet in the moring of May 1, while downtown Newton hosted the annual car show on Main Street. May 2 was the All District Band Concert and Hog Roast in Athletic Park, with the Newton Saddle Club hosting a horse show across the street.