With a majority of proms canceled last year and COVID-19 still creating challenges this year, Kenyon-Wanamingo High School students were enthusiastic about this year’s prom, regardless of the restrictions.
K-W administration/prom organizers worked for several months, preparing to safely allow students to attend the traditional event Saturday.
Masters of ceremony were Sydney Majerus, Sophia Poquette and Bill Miller, with Stacy Quam and Shannon Johnson serving as Prom Committee advisors. Spotlights were operated by Logan Thompson and Louis Breimhurst.
Sophomores Grace Peters and Natalie Langford said they were excited to participate in prom for the first time and were looking forward to the dinner the most.
Aisha Ramirez, on the other hand couldn’t wait until the dance. As a senior, she too, was excited for the opportunity to attend prom.
The east gymnasium and auditorium were used to allow more spectators to space out. The in-person grand march event was available for ticket holders only and was also streamed live on the K-W website.
Students walked through the decorated spaces twice, masked the first time and unmasked (with the lights on) the second. Promgoers stopped several times in front of meticulously decorated backdrops for photo ops. A gazebo was also decorated in the gym for promgoers to step into and have their photos taken. Masks were lowered or removed for photos during the prom grand march and after prom party.
Another change from the traditional setup was that promgoers were asked to travel in their own vehicles and caravan to the Red Wing Golf Course for a meal and dance, instead of utilizing coach buses for transportation, due to COVID restrictions.
Following the dance, promgoers were encouraged to come back to the school for post-prom activities hosted by the K-W Post Prom Committee. The evening consisted of poker, bingo, basketball, dodge ball, henna tattoos, caricatures, cornhole games and prizes from local businesses.
With nearly one month until graduation, Kenyon-Wanamingo Superintendent Bryan Boysen is urging the community to continue following COVID-19 screening guidelines to ensure the district maintains its current learning model and holds upcoming events.
At the April 26 School Board meeting, Boysen said the district is trying to keep events as traditional as possible, noting, however, that they also have to be creative in how the events are planned out by utilizing the outdoors to allow for proper distancing and the district’s livestreaming capabilities. With prom, a major event that was canceled last year, now under the district’s belt, next up on the list are kindergarten round-up, preschool graduation, high school graduation commencement and music concerts.
“COVID is still here and quarantining is a mitigation method we use for safety,” said Boysen during the meeting. “We’re still not done with this fight, but we are doing everything in our power to keep things on the right track. I know I don’t want to be in the situation where I was a year ago at another district cancelling things. It breaks my heart. We need everybody chipping in on the same page using those safety measures. We’re all in this together.”
As of April 23, 53 students were currently in quarantine (7.4% of the district’s population) and three students had positive cases at that time. Since September 2020, there have been 29 positive cases in the district (including both students and staff). Since the beginning of March, the district has been operating in full in-person learning for all grades.
Boysen: Declining enrollment a concern
Along with monitoring the COVID-19 situation, Boysen recently met with School Board Administrative Committee members Jamie Sommer and Tonya Craig to discuss goals for the upcoming school year.
One goal, which has been prevalent for years, is addressing the declining student enrollment.
In Aug. 24, 2020 there were 728 total students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, down 21 from the previous year. Prekindergarten enrollment also had a notable decrease of almost half at 36, compared to the 60 students last year.
Just months after the school year began, student enrollment numbers showed a decrease of 19 students. These decreases, Boysen said, have been in the news for quite some time, especially in districts that were distance learning. Prior to the pandemic, the district’s numbers had been moderately declining.
Boysen reported that he will actively seek resources on how to increase student enrollment, through reviewing latest professional literature on the topic, reaching out to colleagues in the field on their best practices in increasing enrollment, surveying staff and the public and collaborating with the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program.
Boysen said other goals will include building upon the district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and seeking partnerships with area businesses. To achieve this goal, Boysen plans on building relationships with area businesses by visiting them and attending Kenyon Area Business Association and Wanamingo Chamber of Commerce meetings. The superintendent will also build upon relationships with Minnesota State schools in fostering innovative learning experiences, Boysen said.
Another goal, which Boysen says is also embedded in his job description as superintendent, is customer relations. Improving customer relations with the greater public and the community are also important goals Boysen reportedly plans on achieving.
“The superintendent will continue to interact through social media, radio and press as the public relations point person for the district,” Boysen said during the meeting. “The superintendent will engage stakeholders through survey methods to gather input.”