Virtual prom and graduation considered for Summit High students, whose social lives have been upended by the coronavirus shutdown |

Virtual prom and graduation considered for Summit High students, whose social lives have been upended by the coronavirus shutdown

Polis extends statewide in-person schooling closure to at least April 30

Summit High School senior Jeremiah Vaille completes schoolwork at home during the coronavirus shutdown.
Courtesy Kendal Wright Vaille

DILLON — Two weeks after Gov. Jared Polis said it is “increasingly unlikely” students will return to their classrooms this spring, Summit High School seniors received updates about plans for upcoming events such as prom and graduation.

Moments after Polis announced Wednesday afternoon that he’s extending the suspension of in-person learning through April 30, Summit High senior class President Christina Koetteritz shared what she and about 15 members of the School Senate learned in a video conference with Summit High administrators, including Principal Timothy Ridder.

Koetteritz said administrators and students talked about having a virtual prom, which was scheduled for later this month at the Silverthorne Pavilion. The class president added that the possibility of a virtual graduation also was discussed. Graduation is scheduled for May 23 in the Summit High School gymnasium. In the case graduation can’t take place as planned, Koetteritz said those on the call were hopeful for an in-person celebration of the seniors “once we are able to have big events.”

“The juniors are working on the virtual prom setup,” Koetteritz said. “We’re not really sure how it would work. … We were asking them how virtual would work and also asking if we could postpone the dates of prom and graduation. But because so many seniors leave right after school ends, we can’t really do that.”

Koetteritz said administrators informed them that the school intends to host a video conference next week with all of the school’s seniors and juniors to talk through specifics and possibilities. The following week is spring break.

“We are glad they are communicating with us and listening to our voices to find a solution,” she said. “But as seniors, a lot of us are really bummed that we’re facing the reality we are probably not going to have our senior prom and possibly a graduation.”

Koetteritz and fellow senior class member Logan Simson said another disappointing development from the governor’s closure of in-person school activities through the end of the month is how it affects the school’s annual scholarship night, which was scheduled for Monday, April 6. Simson said the event is special to many high school seniors, many of whom get dressed up and eagerly wait to see which scholarships they are awarded before possibly having the opportunity to accept the distinction in front of their peers and parents.

“It’s a night to honor us,” Simson said. “But now, it’s just a phone call.”

Earlier this week, Summit High AP world history and U.S. history teacher and girls soccer coach Jotwan Daniels related to the disappointment for students, especially seniors. Daniels said that for many of his students and athletes, the novelty of the stay-at-home order has worn off and reality is setting in. In his classroom, Daniels’ planned World War I review lesson has shifted to tell the tale of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and draw parallels to the current coronavirus pandemic. But to him, the situation is less about schoolwork and more about the importance of school being the hub of any local community.

For some of his students, Daniels said, school is an escape. They look forward not only to socializing but also to get away from possible troubles at home. He also sympathizes with some of his students who are having to prioritize providing for their families over schoolwork.

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“We just don’t teach students; we teach individuals, human beings who have families,” Daniels said. “Some of my kids are actually working now. …That blows my mind away, in the reality of the situation, how many families out there are in serious need.”

With the cancellation of in-person school, clubs and extracurricular activities also have been impacted. Koetteritz is part of the Environmental Ethics Union and National Honor Society, which has had to cancel planned community service activities and other events they were looking forward to, like a badminton tournament.

At other schools in the district, clubs and organizations are scrambling to complete a year’s worth of progress. Naomi McMahon, the president of the parent teacher association at Upper Blue Elementary in Breckenridge, said the financing component for fundraisers at her school as well as the seniors’ scholarship night haven’t done as well as usual. On top of that, McMahon has had to adapt on the fly to try to finish production of the Upper Blue yearbook.

“We’re redoing how we’re thinking about end-of-the-year type things we normally schedule,” she said.

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