Utah (ABC4 News) — With rights of passages such as proms and graduation ceremonies being cancelled across the United States, organizers of Virtual Prom Live wanted to provide an opportunity for graduating seniors to feel special.
“… we felt so sad for particularly the seniors who had their prom and graduation stolen. They worked so hard to get to these rights of passages- prom is really a right of passage- it has been around forever,” said Taylor Buckley, Co-Founder of the My School Dance app. “And to not be able to have it or experience it- we just wanted to be able to offer something to them that was magical and that celebrated them.”
Buckley organized Virtual Prom Live, which encompasses four live prom events in different time zones across the country. The Mountain Time Zone prom happened on April 18 and had 470 attendees. Students joined from not only Utah and Colorado, but from other parts of the country.
DJ Joune, the official DJ of the Utah Jazz, provided music for the event. Buckley explained that the organizers of the event wanted to create as much of a regular prom experience as possible, so they decided to make four events to accommodate convenient times for each time zone, as well as to use local DJ talent.
According to Buckley, the MST virtual prom lasted for three hours and by the end, 50 people were still there. She said the organizers are encouraging students to attend as many virtual proms as they want.
Click here to learn about upcoming virtual prom events.
“What was really cool is that the kids were doing break off Zoom meetings with each other, people they had never met- meeting new people from different parts of the state, different parts of the country. We thought people would be Face timing or zooming their friends but loved they went and did that on their own,” Buckley said.
She said that some virtual attendees even dressed up for the event and parents tagged Virtual Prom Live in backyard prom pictures.
But how did Buckley come up with the idea for Virtual Prom Live?
As a member of the Masters of Business Creation Program at the University of Utah, Buckley co-founded the My School Dance app. The app helps administration organize school dances in terms of ticket sales, permission slips, and student safety protocols.
When she saw that many schools were cancelling their proms, Buckley knew she had to respond.
“The mission of My School Dance is to enable greater social and emotional learning through easy-to-manage school events, and by school events being cancelled, it kind of cut of the core of our mission,” she said.
As the idea for Virtual Prom Live evolved, Buckley connected with partners and sponsors for the event, including Charlotte’s Closet, which provided free prom dresses to girls in need. Though the event was free to students, they were encouraged to make donations to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit providing meals to kids in need since schools closed.
Though how long coronavirus-related safety measures and closures will last is still up in the air, Buckley has plans to continue Virtual Prom Live in the future, including virtual homecoming, graduation ceremonies, and maybe even an adult virtual prom.
It’s really a great way for us to give back, for our company to stay relevant, and to put positivity in the world when there are so many negative things going on- to give a little bit of light,” she said.
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