Pink and Orange Skies Light up Seniors’ Last Hurrah

Rebecca Lim, Technology Editor

   To say the class of 2021’s senior year was unprecedented is an understatement. This year was filled with loss, disappointment, and frustration. Many events that seniors had been looking forward to since freshman year were canceled due to the pandemic, including Step Up Day and Grad Bash. However, despite this, and in true Jaguar spirit, senior class officers, senior class sponsor Mrs. Altimore, dedicated parents, and faculty were able to put together an unforgettable on-campus prom night. 

      Not long after the prom kicked off, the sky became tinted with orange and pinkish hues, living up to its name and signaling that the night was just beginning. As more and more students trickled in, senior Sam Prieto expressed, “I’m feeling anxious, as I haven’t seen any of these people in a year, so it’s a little nerve-wracking.” However, as seniors reunited with their friends after an isolated school year and exchanged hugs and greetings, the somewhat nervous atmosphere began to fade away.    

   Seniors were dressed in beautiful satin, lace, and velvet dresses and suits in a marvelous variety of colors. Some opted to wear shorter, more casual dresses and shirts, mirroring the more casual style of this prom in comparison to “normal” proms in past years, while others went the extra mile and donned long, elegant gowns and three-piece suits. Despite differences in style and dress code, though, every senior made sure to have on a mask.

   The first place seniors passed after signing in was Senior Square, which was decorated with whimsical fairy lights, illuminating the tables inside where students sat with their friends and decorated their Step Up Day-style crowns, a special craft they had missed due to the hectic ends to their junior years. A delectable candy bar was also set up, with helpers keeping things sanitary by wearing masks and gloves. 

   This health-conscious attitude was mirrored by chaperones at the event, which included familiar faces like Mr. Holland, Ms. Fernandez, and Mrs. Torres. In fact, in the middle of the dancing, chaperones had to ask the DJ to remind students to put their masks on. It was important to remind them, as, amidst the fun and exciting atmosphere, it was easy to forget the ongoing pandemic. After this though, the fun could continue on. 

   The dance floor was truly the center of the party, as students crowded together and danced to familiar favorites like “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee, “Hot in Here” by Nelly, and “Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid, along with new hits like “Peaches” by Justin Bieber. Music blasted through the speakers surrounding the DJ–who was stationed on the outdoor stage in front of the theater–invigorating students’ spirits and stirring their feet. The huge speakers were accompanied by bright and colorful screen boards, which changed with the music. Fog-filled bubbles and beams of light filled the dance floor, while huge sparklers and fog machines blasted along with the speakers. The words “Senior Sunset Prom 2021” and “Pines Charter Class of 2021” were also projected onto the top of the River of Grass, only getting brighter as the night sky darkened. 

   Perhaps the most familiar face of all at the Sunset Prom, Mr. Bayer, could be seen admiring the happy scene of students mingling and dancing and stated that “It’s really exciting to see our seniors, it feels like it’s been so long since we’ve seen all of them together like this. They look so nice and it’s just such a great, fun celebration that I’m just glad we were able to pull this much off, and thanks to Mrs. Altimore and the senior class officers and all the people that put all the work in to make this happen. I’m really appreciative of them.” 

   This appreciation was echoed by numerous seniors, like Hanna Rojo who stated that “We’re all very appreciative of the faculty and the students that were able to put together such an amazing event in such a short time, and we really appreciate it. Everything is set up beautifully, so we’re really excited”, and senior Emma Caulfield who expressed “I’m feeling really happy because our school was able to put something together, because a lot of other schools weren’t as lucky, and I’m really grateful for Mrs. Altimore. I think it’s gonna be a great night!”

   This praise was well-deserved, as clearly no expenses were spared in planning the prom night. Although most students flocked to the dance floor, dancing was not the only thing this prom had to offer. Fun carnival games like giant Connect Four, a milk bottle toss, and a strength tester game were set up by the fountain, giving students even more activities to enjoy on their prom night. 

   Keeping with the Covid-conscious helpers and chaperones, food was served in individually packaged containers, which seniors could grab and enjoy at bar tables behind the dance floor area, where an al fresco dining area was set up. Seniors could also easily grab and enjoy drinks like cold water and soda as well as snacks like cookies, so they could get back to dancing and mingling. 

   The sides of the walkway leading to the al fresco dining area and the dance floor were decorated with tons of Card my Yard signs and frames, celebrating the seniors and their graduation, as well as providing them with fun photo opportunities. 

   To escape the warm Florida night and enjoy some refreshing air conditioning, students could enter the River of Grass theater, where a special video played for them. The video showed each member of the class of 2021’s baby picture and senior picture side by side on a true-to-the-theme sunset background. As seniors watched their friends’ pictures come onto the screen, the occasional shout and cheer echoed throughout the theater. The slideshow was accompanied by sentimental music, invoking bittersweet feelings in seniors as they watched their journey from infancy to the edge of adulthood. 

   The emotional video and the bittersweet feelings it invoked made seniors like Sage Andrews think of their future on this special night. She stated “I’m having a really great time, it’s really exciting to see all my old friends after not seeing them for a whole year, like experiencing their energy and being together with them. It’s really uplifting to start a new college generation and end off the year great with the rest of my class.” 

   A handful of couples could also be spotted at the prom, wearing matching corsages and boutonnieres, or showing up in matching, color-coordinated outfits. Senior Arianna Cuevas expressed that “[The prom] is cool even though this is a weird experience to go through since it’s not an actual prom. But at least I got to dress up real nice; and my boyfriend’s matching with me, so that’s cute.” Arianna’s boyfriend Brandon Nahabetian also expressed “For having a prom, it’s actually really surprising and honestly I love it. As for what I’m seeing so far I’m already seeing friends that I haven’t seen all year so I’m honestly really happy to be here.” 

      In a change from previous prom nights, the night did not end with the crowning of a prom King and Queen, as according to Mrs. Altimore, she and the senior class officers decided to forego crowning due to the majority of students being virtual this past year. Instead, they just wanted students to have fun, mingle, and relax, and conclude their nights by receiving goodie bags on their way out.  

   By the end of the Sunset Prom, the peach-colored sky had turned black, and seniors left the school with tired feet but high spirits. Although it was a bittersweet night, knowing that this was the last hurrah before they all went their separate ways after graduation, seniors are sure to look back on that night and reminisce on the fun they had and the memories they made.