Class of 2021: Making up for lost time with IRL moments and a pandemic prom

The Class of 2021 knew that their prom might not happen this year, let alone the Senior Movie Night, Senior Sunrise or the Senior Tea. But as COVID infection rates started going down, Mayfield’s event planning team went into overdrive, and faculty and staff did everything in their power to create opportunities for Seniors to reconnect and revel in each other’s company.  
Prom 2021 was like no prom before it—an outdoor, ladies-only celebration of a singular Senior year. They arrived solo (no dates allowed!), they wore face masks, and they danced in a parking lot. Yet the mood that night could only be described as jubilant. “We're grateful that it's happening in the first place,” says Karissa Ho ’21. “I didn't think it was going to, so everything feels extra special. And I think I appreciate it more.”

If at a traditional prom, everything is about the dress, the fashion of this unusual night really just amplified the distinct personality of each and every girl there. Melanie Ahn ’21 explained that her partially translucent black top and structured skirt, which she ordered from her aunt in Korea, was a “modernized version of the Korean dress called a ‘hanbok’.” Clarabelle Sullivan ’21 displayed her theatre ingenuity by adding an ornate halo around her head, sparkling above her equally dazzling magenta ensemble. And Elise DeGroot ’21 personally designed, cut and sewed her elegant off-the-shoulder gown, a bold pattern of blue and white flowers, wearing a pair of her black Converse underneath.  

The conversations of the night were time capsules too, discussing topics that weren’t even possible to broach before very recently. Sarah Tupy ’21 and Mariana Trujillo ’21 talked about their vaccine experiences, the minor side effects and the major relief of having been “double vaxxed.” Ashley Ahn ’21 piped in to say she was having her second dose the day after prom.

At the check-in area, manned by Dean of Students Abigail Shaw and Director of Library Services Ann Pibel, conversations also drifted to the recent Senior Sunrise, and when Sarah Tupy arrived at that station, Ms. Shaw took the opportunity to mildly tease her. This pre-dawn event was new to the regular roster of Senior events this year, and apparently it was partially Sarah’s brainchild. “We did it because it was your idea!” said Ms. Shaw, playfully wagging her finger at Sarah. “And you didn’t even show up, you little stinker!” At that point though, Sarah and Ms. Shaw shared a belly laugh, and Sarah admitted, “I slept through it!” 

But Adrianna Greenup ’21 and Francesa Puccinelli ’21 had only rave reviews of that event. “I loved waking up early. Usually waking up can be kind of difficult for me,” says Adrianna. “But I was really excited to be up and ready to go at 5:00 a.m., which was super fun.” Francesca said she’s now excited about graduation too: “I’m so happy and relieved to move on to the next chapter.”  

Golf carts and minivans were deployed for the night of the prom to shuttle students safely down the steep incline, so no one injured their ankles in their high heels. But both Adrianna and Francesca braved the trek down the hill together. Soon enough, these two friends will be making a much bigger trek together this fall—to New Orleans, where they are both incoming students at Tulane.

The Senior Parking Lot was utterly transformed into a perfect stage for the night. There was a temporary dance floor, a big screen, photography, tables and chairs, food and refreshments. Everyone seemed to be dancing to the blaring music, and there was a lot of laughter that even a face mask couldn’t muffle. Head of School Kate Morin was overjoyed to see the event play out the way it did. “We are just thrilled the girls get to have so much fun,” she said.

Obviously there were some bittersweet elements too—it was the end of an era for many. English teacher and Mayfield alum Julie Sanchez Brehove ’11 reflected on the fact that she had taught every single student at the party when they were freshman. She recalled the Mayfield proms she and her twin sister attended, saying, “It's my first class of students and...they're all looking very grown up now. I'm just proud of them.”

Kathryn Calderon ’21 and Stephanie Rodriguez ’21 had a different perspective. “It doesn't feel like we're graduating,” said Kathryn. Stephanie nodded: “I still feel like I’m a freshman.” 

Regardless of the vantage point, being able to be reunited in some form for this night wasn’t just a gift for the Seniors, but for the faculty and staff too. And Francesca captured that general mood of togetherness well: “I'm really excited that Mayfield gave us the opportunity to have a senior prom because it's been a super crazy year, and we've lost so much, and it's just nice to all be able to come together, dress to the nines and look amazing and have fun all together.”

And the event that no one was sure would be able to happen turned into a night that no one will soon forget.
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.