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Parents plan prom for city’s high school seniors
In January, students at Pitman and Turlock high schools came together to form a crosstown court for Winter Formal (pictured). Now, parents are hosting a prom for students in May after COVID put a stop to any school-sanctioned events (Photo contributed).

A group of Turlock parents have banded together to host a prom for the city’s high school seniors after the coronavirus put a stop to any school-sanctioned gatherings. 

According to Turlock Unified School District, Turlock High School is currently exploring a drive-through prom event. Nothing is in the works for Pitman High School students yet, but seniors at both campuses will have the opportunity to experience a prom at the Assyrian American Civic Club in May which parents say will have plenty of safety precautions in place.

“We actually reached out to the district first to see if they were going to do something for the seniors because we didn’t want to step on their toes by throwing a prom,” said prom planner Jessica Rose, whose daughter is a senior at PHS. “We need to do something for the seniors. They’ve lost their whole senior year and they deserve this. They’ve worked so hard for a prom.”

In response to the planned event, scheduled for May 14, TUSD told the Journal that the district’s primary focus at the moment is the safe return of secondary students (grades 7-12) for in-person instruction, co-curricular activities and athletic competition. Both schools came together earlier this year to create a crosstown court for Winter Formal, where candidates were elected and announced virtually. TUSD is also in the process of planning for a more traditional graduation ceremony for seniors which meets the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines.

“We are hopeful that our Turlock community will adhere to public health guidelines on any planned activities to ensure we don’t jeopardize keeping students in school and seeing our seniors walk across the stage in a more traditional ceremony to receive their high school diplomas,” TUSD said.

Guidelines are in place for the parent-planned senior prom, Rose said. Temperature checks will be performed at the door — part of the civic club’s protocol for events — and all attendees are required to wear a mask. The group of parents is also working to secure rapid testing kits for participants, the cost of which is included in the event’s $35 ticket price. 

After posting the event in the Facebook group “Turlock Moms,” which has nearly 5,000 members, Rose said she was met with nothing but positive feedback, and community members have rallied to provide and donate photography services, formal wear funding and even the purchase of tickets for students who can’t afford to attend. 

So far, about 60 seniors from both high schools have bought tickets, Rose said. The Assyrian American Civic Club said the venue can accommodate 350 seniors for the prom. Under the CDPH’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Stanislaus County is currently listed in the purple tier. While COVID numbers locally have improved each week, current restrictions prohibit indoor gatherings greater than 25% of the venue’s capacity. Prior to the pandemic, about 1,200 people could fit into the civic club for events.