LINCOLN SQUARE — Amundsen High School seniors have spent most of the school year socially distanced and learning virtually because of the pandemic.
But as the city reopens Friday, they’ll get to experience an outdoor prom at Amundsen’s campus, 5110 N. Damen Ave., organized by the community.
“The kids didn’t get anything last year,” Amundsen Assistant Principal Cybill Ortiz said. “It was heartbreaking because they worked so hard for four years and look forward to prom. But the luck of the draw, during their senior year the pandemic happened.”
Large events have been canceled statewide due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the city and the rest of Illinois completely reopen Friday without capacity restrictions at businesses and events.
Amundsen’s staff started looking at how to host a pandemic-era prom earlier this year, when options were still limited amid more severe restrictions on gatherings, Ortiz said.
“That’s when we had the thought of using our parking lot, which is 30,000 square feet, and part of the 40-acre park we’re sitting on,” Ortiz said. “We’re so lucky we have one of the best backyards in the city.”
The school crunched the numbers on what it would cost to host an outdoor prom and estimated it would cost $2,500.
Friends of Amundsen hit that goal within a day, raising $5,920 from parents and other members of the school community. Teachers raised another $700 to sponsor student tickets, Ortiz said.
Local businesses got involved, too.
Sweet Virginia’s Kitchen across the street from Amundsen collected more than 80 prom dresses, suits, shoes and other accessories for students who may not be able to afford a new outfit for the dance.
“This is our second time doing this. The first time we did it was 2019, when we first opened,” owner Angie Wines said. “I was absolutely thrilled talking to school when I heard they were putting together this prom. I’m just really happy for the students to be able to end their year with a little bit of normalcy.”
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